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Maradona starts with a win
by Ian Plenderleith, November 20th, 2008 6:45AM
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Maxi Rodriguez scored for Argentina after just eight minutes, knocking the ball in from close range after Scotland keeper Allan McGregor had saved from new captain Javier Mascherano. The Argentines dominated the rest of the game, but the score stayed 1-0.
 
"You see Maradona on the bench coaching, it's fantastic for us," said Mascherano. "It's just a friendly match but it's a good start. I think when you start to play with a new manager, the new motivation is so different."
 
A youthful England team missing several first-choice regulars took a first-half lead against Germany when defender Matthew Upson scrambled in a goal after German goalkeeper Rene Adler missed a corner kick (Adler claimed after the game that he was fouled). Patrick Helmes leveled for the home side after half-time, capitalizing on a moment of hesitation between Terry and his goalkeeper Scott Carson. But after Shaun Wright-Phillips hit the post with a cracking drive, Terry flew through the air to head in the winner with less than five minutes left from a Stewart Downing free kick.
 
"We had a lot of chances to score goals and I like that we played with confidence and personality," said England coach Fabio Capello. "The result is important but the performance was very good. I have confidence in my team and we had the opportunity to get to know some players better who have not played a lot of games with me."
 
His German counterpart Joachim Low said his side had "a bad day," and called England "the better team throughout the whole game. In the second half we got back into it a little, but overall we deserved to lose. Since the European Championship, England has clearly got stronger. Today we didn't have the maturity to beat this team."

Brazil's 6-2 win over Portugal in Brasilia was good news for embattled Brazil coach Dunga and more bad news for Portugal's Carlos Queiroz. In the battle between Brazil's Kaka and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka had a huge edge, orchestrating the Brazil attack. Forward Luis Fabiano had a hat trick, and Maicon, Elano and Adriano each got a goal. Brazil's goals were all sandwiched between goals by Danny and Simao for Portugal.
 
There was a dashing finish at Croke Park, Dublin, as Poland edged the Republic of Ireland, 3-2. Poland led by two on goals from Mariusz Lewandowski and a fine strike from naturalized Brazilian Roger Guerreiro up until the 88th minute, when Stephen Hunt pulled back a penalty for the Irish. Robert Lewandowski then shot Poland two goals ahead again with a beautiful left-footed effort, before Keith Andrews smacked in a second for Ireland in stoppage time, leading to a late surge before where the home team almost grabbed an equalizer.
 
In other friendly action, Greece held Italy to a 1-1 draw in Athens, with Luca Toni canceling out a goal by Theofanis Gekas. The Netherlands beat Sweden 3-1 on a brace from Robin van Persie and a late goal from Dirk Kuyt. France and Uruguay tied 0-0 in Paris, while European champion Spain beat Chile 3-0, the goals coming from David Villa (a penalty kick), Fernando Torres and Santi Cazorla.
 
Tuncay Sanli scored a hat trick for Turkey in its 4-2 win at Austria. Craig Bellamy got the lone goal for Wales in its road win at Denmark. And there were two goals apiece for Milan Jovanovic and Savo Milosevic as Serbia thumped Bulgaria 6-1.
 
Switzerland beat Finland 1-0, Reto Ziegler scoring late. Ukraine beat Norway by the same scoreline on an Evgeni Seleznyov penalty, with John Arne Riise sent off for Norway. In-form TSG Hoffenheim striker Vedad Ibisevic (14 Bundesliga goals in 13 games this season) scored twice for Bosnia & Herzegovina in its 4-3 win at Slovenia, while Romania came from behind to beat Georgia 2-1.



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