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International friendly roundup: Ronaldo bests Salah, Colombia beats France

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals in stoppage time to beat Egypt in a friendly. (Getty)

In a span of 36 hours on Thursday and Friday, 29 of the 32 nations set to appear at this summer’s men’s World Cup took to fields around the globe, from China to the United States, to get their preparations underway.

With all 32 teams set to play at least once more before the March international break comes to a close, we’ll save the comprehensive breakdowns, in-depth analysis and updated power rankings for next week. But below is a roundup of Thursday’s and Friday’s action.

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY ROUNDUP

– Undoubtedly the highest quality game of the lot was the one between Germany and Spain in Dusseldorf. The Spaniards, without Sergio Busquets, essentially played five attacking midfielders and no defensive midfielders. One of those five, Andres Iniesta, picked out Rodrigo with a peach of a pass for a sixth-minute opener.


Spain was probably the better team throughout the first 45 minutes. But Thomas Muller struck from distance to level the score 10 minutes before halftime.


The second half yielded nothing more in the way of goals, but plenty more evidence that these two are among the favorites to lift the World Cup trophy in July.

France dazzled for about a half-hour against Colombia. David Ospina gifted Les Bleus a 1-0 lead. Then they doubled it with a magical move, spearheaded by Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, finished off by Thomas Lemar:


But Colombia pulled itself up to its feet almost immediately with a bit of good fortune. Luis Muriel’s cross traveled straight through traffic and into the back of the net.

The half ended 2-1. France had been the better team. After the break, Colombia really turned things around. It equalized through Falcao, then won the game after being awarded a questionable penalty with five minutes remaining.

Colombia celebrated as if it was a massive result. France likely won’t care. But there were some worrying signs in the second half. More reaction to come next week.

– Mo Salah appeared to have given Egypt a head-turning 1-0 win over Portugal when he beat Beto low to the goalkeeper’s right in the second half.


But Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice in stoppage time to snatch a 2-1 victory for Portugal.



England was decent against a new-look Netherlands side in Amsterdam, and won 1-0 on Jesse Lingard’s second-half strike. Gareth Southgate continued to develop his 3-5-2, and the midfield balance – with Lingard and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to either side of Jordan Henderson – was impressive given the players’ lack of familiarity with the system. More analysis to come next week.

– Lionel Messi didn’t play for Argentina, so it’s unwise to put any stock at all into the Albiceleste performance against Italy. But if you’re curious, the Argentines won 2-0 on second-half goals from Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini.

Brazil, without Neymar, rolled to a 3-0 win in Russia over the hosts. The Brazilians were the better team throughout, but couldn’t find a breakthrough in the first half. Once they did, through Joao Miranda, they cruised. They never hit top gear, and probably can’t without their star, but Tite will likely be pleased with the performance. Again, more analysis of the Brazilians to come next week.

Uruguay scored two first-half goals in a convincing 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic. One was from the penalty spot. The other was a wonderful bicycle kick from Edinson Cavani:


Costa Rica claimed a nice 1-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park. Los Angeles FC’s Marco Urena got the goal for the Ticos in the 14th minute:


Panama played a very CONCACAF-y game against Denmark, and muddled it up enough to keep the score at 0-0 through an hour. Then Blas Perez went studs up to the vicinity of Kasper Schmeichel’s face and got sent off:


Danish winger Pione Sisto scored a slick goal four minutes later, and Denmark won 1-0.

Nigeria shut down Robert Lewandowski and beat Poland 1-0 on a Victor Moses penalty.

Morocco scored an impressive 2-1 victory over Serbia. Ajax attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Then, after Dusan Tadic equalized for the Serbs, Khalid Boutaib continued his astounding international form with a late first-half winner. The 30-year-old was a relative unknown before he made his Morocco debut 18 months ago. But Friday’s goal was his seventh in 14 appearances for his country, and he appears to be Morocco’s answer up front.

– Los Angeles Galaxy striker Ola Kamara scored a hat trick, and Norway smashed Australia 4-1 – a slightly ominous result for the Socceroos.


Japan needed a 95th-minute equalizer to draw Mali 1-1.

Senegal didn’t play its first-choice team and drew 1-1 with Uzbekistan. Sadio Mane and the other regulars who didn’t get off the bench should be back for Tuesday’s game against Bosnia.

Tunisia beat Iran 1-0 in a fairly dull game. Tunisia looked better, but only by a hair.

Switzerland defeated Greece 1-0 on Blerim Dzemaili’s 59th-minute winner.

Saudi Arabia drew 1-1 with Ukraine.

Peru, Croatia, Mexico and Iceland will be in action Friday night. This recap will be updated after both games go final.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.