BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
England successfully defended Wembley Stadium with a 2-1 win Wednesday, snapping a losing streak against Brazil that spanned 23 years.
Joe Hart’s early penalty kick save gave England the spark it needed to grab the lead in the first half, as Wayne Rooney slotted home a rebound. But shortly after the second half got underway, Fred pounced on a Gary Cahill mistake and equalized for the visiting Brazilians.
England found their winner at the hour mark as Frank Lampard fired in a goal off of a slick redirection from Rooney. Lampard has now scored in three straight matches for club and country.
The win marks only the fourth time the Three Lions have defeated the 2014 World Cup hosts in their 150-year history.
Brazil continues their World Tour next month with matches against Italy and Russia.
Here are some more stories to wrap up a busy Wednesday in international action:
NIGERIA, BURKINA FASO HEADING TO AFCON FINAL
While most of the world was wrapped up in friendlies or World Cup qualifying Wednesday, two nations punched their tickets to this weekend’s African Cup of Nations final.
In the first semifinal of the day, Nigeria dominated Mali, 4-1. The Super Eagles scored two goals and were gifted another via an own goal in the first half. Cheick Mady Diarra knocked in a goal for Mali in the 75th minute, but it was already too little too late.
The second semifinal provided more drama as Burkina Faso knocked off Ghana in penalties, 3-2 after a 1-1 draw. After awarding Ghana a questionable penalty kick to open the match, referee Slim Jedidi denied Burkina Faso what appeared to be clear spot kicks in normal and extra time, including in an instance where he sent off midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa for simulation instead of awarding the penalty.
Burkina Faso went on to take advantage of its chances from the spot in the shootout, sealing the upset victory over the Black Stars with an Aristide Bance panenka.
Burkina Faso will be making its first appearance in the AFCON final. Nigeria, meanwhile, will make its seventh overall appearance but first since 2000. The final will be on Sunday, preceded by the third-place match between Mali and Ghana on Saturday.
INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY SCOREBOARD
Spain got a second-half double from Barcelona’s Pedro to defeat Uruguay 3-1. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Malaga’s Isco were among those who made their first international appearance in the match, which took place in Qatar, while Carles Puyol earned his 100th cap for the reigning World Cup champions. The win will give Spain some momentum heading into next month’s qualifying matches with Finland and France.
Germany came from behind to defeat France, 2-1, in its first win over the French since 1987. The hosts got a big goal right before halftime from Mathieu Valbuena but watched their lead slip away via goals from Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira. The injury-plagued German side thought it had given up the equalizer in the final minutes, but a goal from Olivier Giroud was taken away on an offside call.
Argentina scored three goals in the first 23 minutes of its match against Sweden and held on, getting a 3-2 road win to kick off the new year. Mikael Lustig’s own goal opened the door for Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain to add to the early Argentinian lead.
Substitute Marco Verratti scored in stoppage time to give Italy a 1-1 road draw with the Netherlands. The Italians had lost their last five friendly matches heading into the fixture at the Amsterdam ArenA. Jeremain Lens put the Dutch on the board with a 33rd minute volley, but the home team was unable to find the back of the net in a second half controlled largely by the Italians.
Lazio announced the signing of veteran French striker Louis Saha as a replacement for Miroslav Klose, who will be out for the next eight weeks. (REPORT)
Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski says that he will wait until the end of the season to decide on his future with the club. (REPORT)
Pep Guardiola’s new club, Bayern Munich, will host his old club, FC Barcelona, in a friendly on July 24. (REPORT)
Liverpool has not been contacted by Europol in relation to the on-going match-fixing investigation, which reportedly links the scandal with the club’s 1-0 group stage win over Debrecen in the 2009 Champions League. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? What did you take away from England’s performance against Brazil? What are your thoughts on Brazil at this point? Who do you think is going to win the AFCON final?
Share your thoughts below.