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England stunned by Zlatan wonder goal, France impress against Italy

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15 Nov 2012 02:17:19

England stunned by Zlatan wonder goal, France impress against Italy

Zlatan Ibrahimovic lit up a night of friendlies most club coaches had castigated as an unnecessary intrusion into their domestic campaigns as the Swedish star scored four times to give his side a 4-2 win over England on Wednesday.

There was also further evidence France's 1998 World Cup winning captain Didier Deschamps was having a dynamic effect on the present French 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 arch-rivals the Netherlands in Amsterdam and the Portuguese, playing without the absent Cristiano Ronaldo, held 2-2 by Gabon.

A poor result in a friendly doesn't often provoke a sacking but Chile's Argentinian coach Claudio Borghi was told enough was enough after his side slumped to a 3-1 defeat by Serbia - it came on top of a disappointing series of results in South American qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

"I was sacked, I didn't resign," said the 48-year-old.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni too won't 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 win over minnows Luxembourg won't have his paymasters rushing to sign him up on a permanent basis.

Ibrahimovic at his very best is unstoppable and he decided that the inauguration of the new national stadium, the Friends Arena, was a suitably grand occasion for him to produce a masterclass and in doing so inflict England manager Roy Hodgson's first defeat over 90 minutes in 12 games.

Ibrahimovic, who rose to fourth in the all-time Swedish scoring list, saved his most spectacular goal for last, an outrageous long-range bicycle kick in injury time that drew a standing ovation from the Sweden dug-out.

"Sometimes, when he's doing these things, in training or in matches, you don't think it's possible," said Sweden coach Erik Hamren, whose side were scoring four goals for the second successive match.

"Sometimes, you think you're watching a video game. Because it's not possible to do that -- the fourth goal, for example."

The 31-year-old striker, though, said it wasn't his finest match for his country as he said he had played many great games for them, but when asked how he would mark his international career out of 10 he had no hesitation.

"10," he replied.

France - whom Deschamps took over as coach after his fellow World Cup winning team-mate Laurent Blanc stepped down after they went out in the last eight of Euro 2012 - may have beaten a far from full strength Italy side but it left their coach a very happy man.

"The result is important isn't it? We have just recently drawn with Spain and here we have beaten the Euro 2012 finalists. That is quite something.

"I am proud both of the players mental attitude and the spirit they showed."

His Italy counterpart Cesare Prandelli was far from disheartened at what was the side's fifth successive friendly defeat.

"I'd rather lose this match tonight and see the team making some progress than walk away with a win and see nothing," he said.

The Germans took consolation out of their drab draw with the Dutch for not having conceded any goals, having come into the game after a 4-4 draw at home to the Swedes in their World Cup qualifier last month.

"For me, this game was positive," said German coach Joachim Loew.

"We had a changed team, with many regulars missing, but we kept our shape and discipline, that was important after the last game against Sweden.


AFP

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