Spain, England tested in friendlies

Sports Desk, Mar 26 (EFE).- Spain and England prevailed Saturday in friendlies against Albania and Switzerland, respectively, but neither delivered the kind of dominant performance that might be expected from sides seen as favorites for the 2022 World Cup.

Germany, meanwhile, cruised 2-0 over Israel and the Netherlands came out on top in a 4-2 shootout with Denmark.

Playing before a near-capacity crowd at RCDE Stadium in Barcelona, Spain had 82 percent possession and put seven shots on target to one for the Albanians.

But the visitors, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, kept La Roja at bay until the 75th minute, when Ferran Torres made it 1-0, and drew level 10 minutes later with a goal by Myrto Uzuni.

Barcelona native Dani Olmo got the winner in the final minute of regulation as the first Spain squad in a decade not to include any veterans of the side that won the 2010 World Cup looked ahead to this year’s tournament in Qatar.

At London’s Wembley Stadium, World Cup contenders England hosted Qatar-bound Switzerland with a squad that combined stalwarts such as Harry Kane with newcomers to international play and a sub, Ben White, who was thrown in to the fray after starting defender John Stones injured himself in the warmup.

The absence of Stones and the other lineup changes created openings for Swiss and they took the lead in the 22nd minute with a goal by Breel Embolo after White failed to deal with Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross into the box.

The visitors poured on the pressure and only a pair of fine stops by Three Lions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford against Granit Xhaka and Fabian Frei kept Switzerland from extending their advantage before Luke Shaw equalized for England in first-half stoppage time.

The teams were still deadlocked when a VAR review sent Kane to the penalty spot for a hand ball in the box and the captain converted to make the final 2-1.

German coach Hansi Flick took the opportunity of the friendly to experiment with new combinations in preparation for the World Cup and the preliminary results were pretty impressive.

Die Mannshaft outshot the Israelis 24-4 and should have won by a bigger margin, but the first-half goals by Chelsea men Kai Havertz and Timo Werner proved to be more than enough.

Saturday’s contest between the Netherlands and Denmark in Amsterdam marked a return to the international stage for Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest during a Euro Cup match last summer.

While Steven Bergwijn had a brace for the Dutch in the 4-2 victory, Eriksen stole the spotlight, receiving a thunderous ovation when he came on as a sub early in the second half and again two minutes later after scoring his team’s second goal of the night.

The hosts also got goals from Nathan Ake and Memphis Depay, who converted a penalty, and Jannik Vestergaard was the other scorer for Denmark. EFE


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