England beat old enemy on busy night of friendlies
PARIS - England edged out old enemies Scotland in a five-goal thriller at Wembley on Wednesday in what proved to be the pick of a busy night of international action.
The midweek friendly date sanctioned by FIFA is not the most popular among clubs, falling as it does just as Europe's leading domestic leagues are getting underway.
But there was plenty of drama with England beating Scotland 3-2 while Germany shared six goals with Paraguay; Italy lost to Argentina in Rome, Confederations Cup winners Brazil went down to defeat in Switzerland and reigning world and European champions Spain triumphed in Ecuador.
In a revival of the oldest international fixture in world football, Scotland were in front twice at Wembley, goals from James Morrison and Kenny Miller sending 20,000 visiting fans wild with delight.
But England hit back each time, first through Theo Walcott and then Danny Welbeck, before 31-year-old Southampton striker Rickie Lambert headed in what proved to be the winner 20 minutes from time on his debut.
"Rickie Lambert has been so enthusiastic -- he's been like a young boy with a new toy," said England manager Roy Hodgson.
"He almost got three and I'm delighted with him."
While England emerged victorious, Germany displayed defensive weaknesses again in an admittedly entertaining 3-3 draw with Paraguay in Kaiserslautern.
The hosts were 2-0 and 3-2 down in the first half against the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists -- who nevertheless sit bottom of South American qualifying for next year's finals -- before coming back to draw as Ilkay Gundogan, Thomas Mueller and Lars Bender netted their goals.
"We only trained twice before this match," said Bayern Munich defender and Germany captain Philipp Lahm.
"We'll have more time to prepare and obviously we don't want to concede three goals next time," he added, with attention turning to next month's qualifier at home to neighbours Austria.
Elsewhere, Spain's latest transatlantic trip to play in a money-spinning friendly saw them beat Ecuador 2-0 in Guayaquil, Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo and Arsenal's Santi Cazorla scoring the goals for the visitors.
In contrast, the Brazilians went down to a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in Basel, with a farcical Dani Alves own-goal early in the second half separating the sides.
The Barcelona full-back inexplicably headed the ball past his own goalkeeper Jefferson at the back post to give the Swiss -- top of European World Cup qualifying Group E -- a surprising win.
Brazil's old rivals Argentina won 2-1 against Italy in Rome, despite being deprived of the presence of world player of the year Lionel Messi.
Gonzalo Higuain, who recently moved to Serie A side Napoli, and Ever Banega netted for the visitors before Lorenzo Insigne got one back for the Azzurri, who were themselves missing star striker Mario Balotelli.
"When a team is used to playing with Messi, you can see the difference when he is not there," admitted Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella. "Messi is irreplaceable (but) the character and desire we showed really pleased me."
In other games, Portugal and the Netherlands drew 1-1 on the Algarve, with a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal earning the home side a draw after Kevin Strootman had put the Dutch in front.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted a hat-trick as Sweden beat neighbours Norway 4-2 in Solna, but France saw their woes in front of goal continue as they drew 0-0 in Belgium.
Les Bleus - who are in the same World Cup qualifying group as Spain - have now gone more than six hours without putting the ball in the net, with supposed star striker Karim Benzema seeing his international goal drought stretch to over 19 hours.
World Cup qualifying resumes in September, when a double-header of fixtures in the European zone will create a clearer picture of who is likely to advance to next year's finals in Brazil.
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse