In another round of pre-World Cup international friendlies, Germany held on to beat Saudi Arabia despite a late scare, while Iran, Uruguay, Switzerland and Croatia all claimed confidence boosting crucial wins.
It’s under a week to go now until the festivities kick off in Russia, with a swathe of players taking to the field in a last ditch bid to prove their worth to their respective bosses. Some impressed more than others, with others perhaps guilty of some last minute pre-tournament jitters.
Uruguay ran out to a comfortable 3-0 win against the 95th ranked team in the world, Uzbekistan in Montevideo. Giorgian De Arrascaeta got on the score sheet just after the half hour mark to hand the hosts the lead before a Luis Suarez penalty and a Jose Maria Gimenez goal in the second half rounded out the win.
A red card 10 minutes from time for Akramjon Komilov added insult to injury for the White Wolves, but in truth the result was far from salvageable, with a sensational comeback made even less probable by their left back’s dismissal.
A late winner from Iran’s Karim Ansarifard handed the Group B hopefuls a late win against Lithuania, with the Team Melli getting a true dress rehearsal by playing in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
Croatia mounted a second half comeback to overcome a highly talented Senegal side. Stade Rennais’ young winger Ismalia Sarr opened the scoring for the Africans, giving Aliou Cisse’s men a 1-0 lead going into the break.
It wasn’t to last however, as Inter’s Ivan Perisic levelled the scoring 20 minutes after the restart, before former Leicester City man Andrej Krameric handed the Croatians a 2-1 win with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Germany were forced to endure a late scare against Group A’s Saudi Arabia in Bayer Leverkusen’s BayArena, despite an early opener from RB Leipzig’s highly talented striker, Timo Werner.
An own goal from Saudi captain Omar Hawsawi before half time would eventually prove the difference between the two sides, despite Germany seemingly be in control at 2-0 up.
Al-Ahli midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim gave the Green Falcons a flicker of hope with little over five minutes remaining, although it wasn’t enough to stop the Germans running out 2-1 winners.
Elsewhere, Japan were bested 2-0 by Switzerland, with a Ricardo Rodriguez penalty and a Haris Seferovic strike proving the difference in Lugano’s Cornaredo Stadium.
In the late kick off, Poland and Chile played out a breathless 2-2 draw, with a flurry of three first half goals being the highlight.
Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring on the half hour mark with a 20-yard wonder strike, before Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski doubled the White and Reds’ lead. However, eight minutes after Lewandowski’s opener, Chile’s Diego Valdes Contreras pulled one back for the South Americans, reducing the deficit to 2-1.
An early second half strike from Miiko Albornoz set the game up to become a goal fest, although it was not to be, and the game finished 2-2.