Zlatan Ibrahimovic lit up a night of friendlies most club coaches had castigated as an unnecessary intrusion into their domestic campaigns as the Sweden star scored four times to give his side a 4-2 win over England on Wednesday.
Ibrahimovic saved his most spectacular goal for last, an outrageous long-range bicycle kick in in stoppage-time that drew a standing ovation from the Sweden dugout.
There was also further evidence France’s 1998 World Cup winning captain Didier Deschamps was having a dynamic effect on the present team as they followed up their impressive 1-1 draw against world and European champions Spain in a World Cup qualifier last month with a 2-1 win over Euro 2012 finalists Italy in Parma.
Elsewhere, two Euro 2012 semi-finalists Germany and Portugal had to settle for draws — the Germans drawing 0-0 with archrivals the Netherlands in Amsterdam and the Portuguese held 2-2 by Gabon.
A poor result in a friendly does not often provoke a sacking, but Chile’s Argentine coach Claudio Borghi was told enough was enough after his side slumped to a 3-1 defeat by Serbia. The loss came on top of a disappointing series of results in South American qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni also will not be feeling too comfortable as his side slumped to a 1-0 home defeat by Greece — their second successive home reverse following the 6-1 humiliation by Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month.
Scotland are looking for a new manager and while they gained a welcome win in caretaker manager Billy Stark’s first game in charge since Craig Levein was relieved of his duties, a 2-1 away victory over minnows Luxembourg will not have his paymasters rushing to sign him up on a permanent basis.
Lionel Messi was kept scoreless as Argentina were held 0-0 in Saudi Arabia, but Barcelona teammate Pedro Rodriguez scored twice as Spain defeated hosts Panama 5-1.
Luis Suarez scored in the second half to cap Uruguay’s 3-1 win in Poland, while Neymar scored in the 64th minute as Brazil drew 1-1 with Colombia.