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Germany show WC form as fans jeer Brazil Japan edge Zambia

MAINZ, Germany, June 7, (Agencies): Germany produced a dazzling display of attacking football to thrash Armenia 6-1 in their last World Cup warmup. The Germans, looking to end an 18-year wait for an international title, scored all their goals in the second half after midfielder Reus was taken to hospital for checks after being injured in the 43rd minute. Mario Goetze struck twice and Lukas Podolski, Andre Schuerrle, Benedikt Hoewedes and Miroslav Klose, who became his country’s all-time top scorer with 69 goals, were also on target as the hosts hit five goals in 18 minutes. Germany, who take on Portugal, Ghana and United States in World Cup Group G later this month, were without first-choice keeper Manuel Neuer who is recovering from a shoulder injury.

Neuer, expected to be fit for the group opener against Portugal, was replaced by Borussia Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller for the second consecutive international. The deputy keeper was rarely called into action as Germany took the initiative from the start. They missed early chances through Reus and Thomas Mueller, starting as the only forward with Klose on the bench. Schuerrle, who also scored on Sunday, gave the fans something to cheer when he drilled the ball in after 52 minutes following good work from Podolski. Mesut Ozil, a second-half substitute after recent below-par performances, rattled the post with a low drive before Armenia levelled when Henrikh Mkhitaryan beat Dortmund team mate Weidenfeller with a 69th-minute penalty. Germany then put their foot on the gas to fire five goals in an explosive finish.

Podolski, hitting top form at just the right time, picked up a clever pass from Ozil to score in the 71st minute before Hoewedes added another goal two minutes later. Klose, who came on as a substitute, broke Gerd Mueller’s 40-year Germany record by notching a 69th goal on his 132nd appearance with a diving header.
Goetze completed the rout with a late double.

Brazil 1, Serbia 2
In Sao Paulo, Brazil survived a poor first half to beat Serbia 1-0 in a warm-up friendly, but their lacklustre display was not what the home fans expected just six days before the World Cup. The crowd were booing the home side when Fred got the only goal of the game in the 57th minute, with the Fluminense forward chesting down a cross from the right and poking the ball home. It was a cruel blow to the Serbs, who had out-fought their more illustrious opponents and created the best chances, particularly in the first half. Brazil looked shaky in the air with Aleksandar Mitrovic putting a free header wide after 30 minutes and Milos Jujic hitting the post with a header midway through the second half.

Hulk had the ball in the net for Brazil after 73 minutes but the goal was ruled out for offside, although TV replays showed the decision was harsh. Jo later brought out a fine finger-tipped save in the closing seconds.
The friendly was Brazil’s last before they open the World Cup against Croatia at the Corinthians arena next week. Brazil are hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950 and are in Group A with Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia. Brazil were back at full strength after missing Paulinho and Thiago Silva against Panama on Tuesday. Oscar was also included, a day after the birth of his daughter Julia.

Japan 4, Zambia 3
In Tampa, Yoshito Okubo netted the winning goal in stoppage time to give bloodied Japan a 4-3 victory over Zambia in the Asian champions’ final World Cup warm-up match. AC Milan striker Keisuke Honda scored two goals and Manchester United forward Shinji Kagawa added another, but it took second-half entrant Okubo to send Japan to Brazil with a 3-0 mark in tune-up friendlies. Japan fell behind by two goals and saw a bloody gash opened over the left eye of striker Shinji Okazaki in the 18th minute, but they rallied behind their star attackers for the victory. Honda scored on a penalty kick in the 40th minute, Kagawa netted the equalizer in the 73rd minute and Honda flicked in a centering pass in the 75th minute for a go-ahead goal. Zambia answered when reserve teen midfielder Lubambo Musonda scored in the 89th minute, his outside attempt deflecting high and over Japan goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.

That set the stage for Okubo’s game winner, as the midfielder took control of a long centering pass at the top of the penalty area and blasted in a shot with his left foot on the next stride. Japan will try to carry that momentum when they fly to Brazil on Saturday, a week before opening World Cup play against Ivory Coast with later Group C matches scheduled against Greece and Colombia. Japan, ranked 30 spots above Zambia by FIFA at 46th in the world, fell behind 2-0 before fighting back. Kagawa’s pass attempt from the right side of the penalty area was deflected by the right arm of Zambian defender Emmanuel Mbola, setting up a penalty kick that Honda slid to the right and just inside the post. Kagawa knotted the score when he sent a right-footed cross into the heart of the penalty area aiming for Honda, who was delayed by a defender and missed the ball. Zambia goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata, who was anticipating a move from Honda, could only helplessly watch the ball bounced into the goal to his left.

Croatia 1, Australia 0
In Salvador, Brazil, Nikica Jelavic gave Croatia a 1-0 win over Australia in a warm-up game Friday ahead of their World Cup opener against hosts Brazil next week.
The Hull City striker broke the deadlock in the 58th minute after he benefited from a deflected ball and slotted home unmarked in the penalty area.
Jelavic’s goal came after delightful interplay between Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric and Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic on the fringe of the penalty area.
Modric was brought off moments later by manager Niko Kovac unscathed ahead of Croatia’s opening Group A match with Brazil in Sao Paulo on June 12.
But Croatia may have lost their left-back Danijel Pranjic with an ankle injury midway through the first half.
The Panathinaikos wide player appeared to roll his left ankle in a challenge from Australian right-back Ivan Franjic and went down in pain to be stretchered from the field and out of the game.
The 18th-ranked Croatians took time to settle against the robust Socceroos but took control of the friendly in the second half, dominating possession with their precise intricate passing.
The Australians, chasing their first win in 14 attempts in South America, had their best period of the game early on with New York Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill putting himself about.

Colombia 3, Jordan 0
In Buenos Aires, Colombia converted two penalties in a 3-0 win over Jordan in a World Cup warmup on Friday but are sweating on a fitness report for injured midfielder Aldo Leao Ramirez.
The seasoned 33-year-old, who played a significant role in Colombia’s successful qualifying campaign for the Brazil finals, injured his knee during training at the team camp outside Buenos Aires and is a doubt for the tournament starting June 12.
Ramirez would become the fourth Colombian to miss the tournament though injury after the withdrawals of striker Radamel Falcao, midfielder Edwin Valencia and defender Luis Amaranto Perea.
“We’re hours from having to make a decision. We’re going to see what the diagnosis is, what chances we have but we hope he doesn’t (miss the tournament),” coach Jose Pekerman said.
“I don’t want to jump the gun, we’ve got to wait a bit to see what’s happening,” he told Argentine state television.
In the friendly at the Nuevo Gasometro stadium in Buenos Aires, midfielder James Rodriguez put Colombia ahead from the spot close to halftime after handball by Rajaei Ayed Fadel.
Right back Camilo Zuniga hit the bar in the 54th minute before substitute Juan Cuadrado converted the second penalty seven minutes from time after being brought down by defender Anas Bani Yaseen, who was sent off.
Winger Fredy Guarin completed the win with a fine strike from outside the box one minute from time.
Colombia, going to the finals for the first time in 16 years, face Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan in Group C.

Greece 2, Bolivia 1
In Harrison, United States, Greece, backed by a partisan crowd at Red Bull Arena, scored once in each half to beat Bolivia 2-1 on Friday in their final World Cup tune-up match.
Panagiotis Kone and Kostas Katsouranis scored for Greece — who open their World Cup campaign in Brazil on June 16 against Colombia — but a goalkeeping gaffe allowed Bolivia to pull one back late in the game.
Greece coach Fernando Santos opted to keep star forward Kostas Mitroglou on the bench and start his backup, Theofanis Gekas, who missed three good scoring chances before he was replaced in the 65th minute.
But the win will no-doubt boost the 2004 European champions’ confidence as they ended a goal drought that had stretched through three matches.
That included goalless draws against Portugal and Nigeria in World Cup warm-ups in the past week.
The drought ended in the 20th minute when Dimitrios Salpingidis fired a cross into the area that Kone headed past goalkeeper Romel Quinonez into the right corner for a 1-0 lead.
Greece doubled the margin in the 53rd when Katsouranis delivered a well-judged header off a corner kick into the back of the net.
Bolivia pulled a goal back in the 69th when Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis couldn’t get his hands on a shot by Rudy Cardozo.

Portugal 1, Mexico 0
In Foxborough, a stunning last-gasp header by Portugal’s Bruno Alves earned his side a fortunate 1-0 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Mexico in a warmup match in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
The game looked set for a goalless draw when Bruno Alves soared to send an unstoppable header past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 93rd minute from a cross by Joao Moutinho.
But Portugal, missing captain Cristiano Ronaldo who is suffering from tendinosis and a thigh injury, also had to thank their stopper Eduardo who gave an inspired performance.
Mexico dominated the second half but Eduardo kept them out with fine saves from Hector Herrera, twice, and Alan Pulido leaving the door open for Bruno Alves to grab the late winner.
Portugal looked dangerous in the first half and Mexico keeper Jose Corona, replaced by Ochoa at halftime, had to deny Vierinha and then Eder after Fabio Coentrao put him through.
Mexico came close to scoring before halftime though with a long-range effort from Andres Guardado that flew just wide of the far post with Eduardo scrambling across his goal.
Portugal almost broke the deadlock five minutes after the break through Contrao but his close-range strike was blocked by Ochoa, who is battling with Corona for the starting spot.
Eduardo was then called on to make the first of three fantastic saves with a fine block just past the hour mark to deny Herrera, who was set up by substitute Javier Hernandez.
The keeper was called on again seven minutes later to stop another Herrera strike and in the last minute of regular time he pulled off a fine save to turn away Pulido’s left-foot shot.

Costa Rica 1, Ireland 1
In Chester, Pa, Ireland and Costa Rica played a 1-1 draw in a pre-World Cup exhibition game dubbed as Freedom Cup 2014. Ireland struck in the 18th minute when Kevin Doyle headed home a cross from Marc Wilson. But the Irish couldn’t hold the lead against short-handed Costa Rica. In the 41st minute, defender Giancarlo Gonzalez was handed a red card. The Ticos never stopped hustling and tied the game at 1 in the 64th minute. After a foul in the penalty area crease, Celso Borges scored on a penalty kick, sending the large throng of Costa Rica fans into a cheering frenzy. Just two minutes later, Ireland had a chance to take the lead on a penalty kick. But Robbie Keane, who has scored seven goals and three assists for the Los Angeles Galaxy this season, was stymied by goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton.

With two minutes of stoppage time winding down, a fan ran on the field and attempted to hug Costa Rica forward Bryan Ruiz. The fan was ejected from the stadium. Following the game, several fans were tackled by security on the field. Costa Rica qualified for their first World Cup since 2006 and is in Group D with Uruguay, Italy and England. Costa Rica will open play against Uruguay on June 14. The Ticos are ranked 28th in the latest FIFA rankings.

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