Unimpressive Germany beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in World Cup warmup

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Saudi Arabia's foward Mohammad Al-Sahlawi missed a penalty. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia's midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim pounced on a penalty save to score. (AFP)
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The Green Falcons would be pleased by a competitive game against the world champions Germany. (AP)
Updated 09 June 2018
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Unimpressive Germany beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in World Cup warmup

  • Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf was impressive throughout
  • Joachim Loew’s side again failed to shine

LEVERKUSEN, Germany: Defending World Cup champion Germany defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Friday for a timely but unimpressive win one week before its title defense begins in Russia.

Having failed to win any of its previous five friendly games since wrapping up qualification with a perfect 10 wins from 10 matches, Germany was keen to deliver a statement four days before the side leaves for its tournament base in Moscow, especially after last Saturday’s lackluster 2-1 defeat to Austria.

But Joachim Loew’s side again failed to shine and had to rely on Mats Hummels denying Mohammad Al-Sahlawi an injury-time equalizer.

Loew started his strongest available side. Mesut Ozil, who is laboring with a knee injury, was left out with Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain taking the Arsenal midfielder’s place.

Timo Werner fired the home side into an early lead after Marco Reus cut the ball back. It was one-way play thereafter, though the visitors did create some chances as the home side relaxed before the break.

Just when it seemed there might be an equalizer, Werner crossed for Omar Hawsawi to turn the ball into his own net under pressure from Thomas Mueller.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, who was impressive throughout, denied Gundogan just minutes after he came on.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who came on for Manuel Neuer at the break, saved a late penalty from Al-Sahlawi but Taisir Al-Jassim followed up on the rebound. The result arguably does more for Saudi Arabia’s hopes than Germany.


Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

Updated 18 June 2019
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Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

  • The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay
  • Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time

SAO PAULO: Chile’s experienced Copa America team proved too good for Japan’s young squad.

The two-time defending champions opened their Copa America campaign with a 4-0 win over the Asian guests on Monday, with Eduardo Vargas scoring a pair of goals to become Chile’s all-time leading scorer in the South American competition.

Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez also scored for the titleholders, which are trying to become the first nation to win three straight Copa titles since Argentina in the late 1940s. Vargas scored twice in the second half to reach 12 goals with Chile in the tournament, two more than Enrique Hormazabal.

The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay, which opened with a 4-0 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

“Chile has players who are very experienced, who know each other very well,” Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda said. “The challenge today was to avoid a bad debut. We were humble and entered with our feet on the ground. We were playing against a team that was very competitive in all sectors.”

Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time, brought to Brazil a young squad focused on the Olympic tournament at home next year. The Japanese youngsters struggled against the veteran Chilean squad which was in control from the start at the Morumbi Stadium.

Chile won the last two editions of the Copa America, beating Argentina in penalty shootouts in the final both in 2015 and 2016. Argentina is the only team to have won three consecutive South American titles, from 1945-47.

Boosted by most of the 23,253 fans at the Morumbi, Chile created most of the significant chances.

After Pulgar headed in a corner-kick cross by Charles Aranguiz in the 41st minute, Vargas added to the lead with a shot from outside the area in the 54th after a pass by Mauricio Isla.

Sanchez found the net with a header in the 82nd, and Vargas closed the scoring about a minute later with a long lob shot over goalkeeper Keisuke Osako as he charged from his net.

It was a good opening match for Sanchez after a difficult season with Manchester United.

“I was coming off a difficult month-and-a-half,” said the 30-year-old Sanchez, who injured his ankle late in the season. “I struggled in the first 45 minutes, I felt tired, but I improved in the second half.”

Rueda, debuting with Chile in an official tournament, has been gradually revamping the squad since he took over in 2018. Among the veterans back from the team’s recent triumphs were Vargas, Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, who also had a good opener.

Japan last played in the Copa America in 1999, when it was eliminated in the group stage. Among the youngsters in Brazil was Takefusa Kubo, the 18-year-old who has joined Real Madrid’s “B” team for next season. He played from the start and was a threat for Japan in attack. He got an ovation from the crowd at the Morumbi after getting past a defender with a ball through his legs about 10 minutes into the match. He nearly scored after a nifty move past a defender inside the area in the 65th, but his shot hit the outside of the net. Japan had a few good chances to get on the board toward the end of the game but could not capitalize on them.