England ensured Luiz Felipe Scolari’s second spell in charge of misfiring giants Brazil began with a defeat on Wednesday as World Cup favorites Spain, Argentina and Germany all clinched impressive wins on the road.
England beat five-time world champions Brazil 2-1 at a chilly Wembley to end a 23-year wait for victory over the south Americans.
Home goalkeeper Joe Hart saved an early penalty from the recalled Ronaldinho, before Wayne Rooney put Roy Hodgson’s side ahead.
An error from Gary Cahill allowed substitute Fred to equalize for Brazil early in the second half, but Frank Lampard gave England victory with a smartly taken goal on the hour.
“The lads who completed 90 minutes deserve a lot of credit because Brazil can’t half move the ball,” Lampard said.
“We’ve played some very good games against lesser opposition. We had to work hard and they missed chances, but we did well and we could have scored more,” he said.
Scolari, who replaced Mano Menezes in November, refused to be downbeat about the defeat.
“I’m not disappointed. We played against a strong England team who had strong players and were in good physical form,” he said.
In Doha, world and European champions Spain stretched their unbeaten run at senior international level to 17 games with a 3-1 win over Uruguay, a victory sealed by two goals from Pedro Rodriguez after the break.
“Pedro is a dynamic player,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. “He knows exactly what he has to do and he has the touch of speed needed in modern football. We had periods of good football in the first-half, but we lacked a bit of directness and Pedro provided this with his speed.”
In Paris, Real Madrid duo Mesut Oezil and Sami Khedira combined to devastating effect as Germany came from behind to beat France 2-1.
Khedira supplied Oezil and then got on the end of a brilliant return pass from the little playmaker before finishing past Hugo Lloris in the 74th minute to hand Germany their first victory over their neighbors since reunification.
The last time France had lost to a German team was back in 1987, when Rudi Voeller scored twice in a 2-1 West Germany victory.
It looked like Les Bleus’ impressive run against their old foes would continue when Mathieu Valbuena headed the hosts in front at the Stade de France just before halftime.
However, a cool finish from Thomas Mueller brought the visitors level within six minutes of the restart.
“It was unfair at halftime, because we played some good football in the first half,” Khedira said.
“It was unnecessary to concede the goal, but you can’t keep the French quiet for 90 minutes. We gave the right answer in the second half,” he said.
Argentina defeated Sweden 3-2 in Stockholm on a night when superstar strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi both failed to get on the scoresheet.
Argentina were 3-1 up by the break courtesy of two strikes from Gonzalo Higuain and one from Sergio Aguero, while Jonas Olsson was on target for the Swedes.
Substitute Rasmus Elm hit a consolation for the hosts in the fifth minute of injury time.
In Amsterdam, a stoppage time goal by Marco Verratti gave Italy a 1-1 draw with a young Dutch side after the hosts had taken a 33rd-minute lead through Jeremain Lens.
New Scotland coach Gordon Strachan had a winning start when Charlie Mulgrew scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Estonia.
Elsewhere, the Republic of Ireland beat Poland 2-0, Wales saw off Austria 2-1, Belgium edged Slovakia 2-1, the Czech Republic won 2-0 in Turkey and Croatia handed South Korea a 4-0 mauling in London.