Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 18 News List

SOCCER SHORTS

Agencies

FRANCE

Varane nets ‘Bleus’ winner

Centerback Raphael Varane scored the only goal of the game six minutes from time to give France a 1-0 win over Sweden in Marseille on Tuesday. The result ensured France remained unbeaten since the FIFA World Cup finals as they build up to hosting Euro 2016 with a number of friendlies. It also went some way to erasing the embarrassment of Friday last week’s 1-1 draw with unfancied Albania in Rennes, but the day belonged to Real Madrid starlet Varane, who at 21 not only scored his first international goal in 17 appearances, but was also captain on the night. “On top of the fact he was captain, it’s good,” France coach Didier Deschamps said of his match-winner. “He has a good attacking game with his head and scores for Real Madrid. It was good that he managed to break the deadlock.”

ITALY

‘Azzurri’ edge Albania 1-0

A virtual second-choice Italy side labored to a narrow 1-0 win over Albania in an international friendly in Genoa on Tuesday. The winning goal even had a touch of fortune about it as Hamdi Salihi diverted Stefano Okaka’s shot past goalkeeper Etrit Berisha with seven minutes left. On his debut, Okaka, a second-half substitute for Sebastian Giovinco, was a rare bright spark for Italy. For Albania, it was a case of so near and yet so far, just a few days after holding France to a 1-1 draw. Centerback Leonardo Bonucci, captain for the night, was the only player to keep his place in Antonio Conte’s Italy side from the lineup held to a 1-1 draw by Croatia in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Sunday. Okaka was not the only Italy debutant as Torino defender Emiliano Moretti and Genoa midfielder Andrea Bertolacci also made their international bows.

IRAN

Hosts win feisty showdown

If South Korea and Iran thought Tuesday’s friendly international in Tehran would take the sting out of their increasingly acrimonious rivalry, they were vastly mistaken. The hosts’ controversial 1-0 win at the Azadi Stadium ended with players, coaches and officials having to be pulled apart by cooler heads, with South Korea coach Uli Stielike and his Iran counterpart, Carlos Queiroz, mixed up in the melee. Relations between the two sides soured during qualifying for the last World Cup, when South Korea complained about inadequate training facilities in Tehran and then-coach Choi Kang-hee said he would enjoy eliminating Iran from the race to Brazil. Iran traveled to Seoul for the return leg in the final group game last year and beat South Korea 1-0, sparking ugly scenes on the sidelines as Queiroz and his assistants celebrated by rushing toward the South Korea bench and gesturing wildly. Substitute Sardar Azmoun’s late winner on Tuesday maintained Iran’s unbeaten record at home against South Korea.

HUNGARY

Russia win in Budapest

Russia won on Tuesday for the first time in four matches, beating Hungary 2-1 in a friendly to relieve the pressure on under-fire coach Fabio Capello. Media reports said the Italian could be sacked after the game in Budapest, but his side triumphed thanks to second-half goals from Sergei Ignashevich and Alexander Kerzhakov. Hungary replied through Nemanja Nikolic with four minutes to go. Capello’s men took the lead after 49 minutes when halftime substitute Ignashevich glanced home a header at the near post. Kerzhakov then extended his scoring record for Russia to 29 goals when he pounced on a pass from Alan Dzagoev to slot between Dibusz’s legs.

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