LONDON, November 19-England notched up a 3-1 victory over old foes Scotland on Tuesday while world champions Germany and Portugal sealed last-gasp 1-0 wins over Spain and Argentina respectively in friendlies on Tuesday.
Wayne Rooney became England’s third-highest goal-scorer outright as Roy Hodgson’s side defeated the Scots to record a sixth successive victory.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put England ahead at Celtic Park and Rooney scored either side of a late Andy Robertson strike to chalk up his 45th and 46th international goals on his 101st appearance.
It took the Manchester United striker clear of Jimmy Greaves, with whom he had previously shared third place, and left him three goals shy of Bobby Charlton’s all-time record and two goals behind Gary Lineker.
“I’ve always loved playing for England,” said Rooney. “I’m on a good run of goals and I hope that continues. If that means I break the record then I’ll be delighted.”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest duel with Lionel Messi proved a damp squib as the two superstars played for just 45 minutes of their match Old Trafford.
The 27th meeting between Portugal winger Ronaldo and Argentina forward Messi had been billed as a golden opportunity for the world’s two best players to underline their credentials for this year’s Ballon D’or award.
But neither Barcelona’s Messi nor Real Madrid’s Ronaldo were anywhere near their brilliant best, with the latter especially anonymous on just his second return to Old Trafford since his 2009 move from Manchester United.
In the end, Portugal claimed only their second win over Argentina, and their first since 1972, thanks to Raphael Guerreiro’s diving header in stoppage-time.
– Casilla howler –
Germany’s victory over Spain, the team that preceded them as world champions, came in a game between two experimental sides thanks to a 90th-minute goal by Toni Kroos.
“It was just what we’d been hoping for. It’s been a big year and this was a fine way to close it,” Kroos said after the game.
Spain’s substitute goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was guilty of a howler, fumbling Kroos’s innocuous-looking shot from the edge of the area.
Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas had started for Spain in his 160th international appearance, but made way for his near namesake Casilla with 20 minutes to go.
In a packed Ernst-Happel Stadium, the Austrian fans thought they had got off to the perfect start against Brazil, but apparent goal-scorer Rubin Okotie was yellow-carded for handling the ball into the Brazilian net.
As it was, Brazil ended a disappointing year with a 2-1 win over Austria, Paris Saint-Germain centre-back David Luiz opening the scoring for the visitors before Aleksandar Dragovic equalised from the penalty spot, only for Roberto Firminio to snatch the Brazilian winner seven minutes form time.
This result won’t make up for Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to eventual champions Germany on home soil in July, but will at least send the Selecao into the new year with a more positive vibe.
It was their sixth straight win since the end of the World Cup but the first goal they had conceded under coach Dunga, who took over from Luis Felipe Scolari after the global bonanza.
Dunga was delighted to see his gamble on new face Firmino paying off.
“When I picked the squad and people asked me about Firmino I said he has goals in him,” he said.
In Genoa, a virtual second-choice Italy side laboured to a narrow 1-0 win over Albania.
The winning goal even had a touch of fortune about it as Hamdi Salihi diverted Stefano Okaka’s shot past goalkeeper Etrit Berisha with seven minutes left.
On his debut, Okaka, a second-half substitute for Sebastian Giovinco, was a rare bright spark for Italy.
For Albania, it was a case of so near and yet so far, just a few days after holding France to a 1-1 draw.
France meanwhile notched up a 1-0 victory over Sweden thanks to an 84th-minute goal from Raphael Varane, and Ireland beat the United States 4-1 in further friendly action.
Two goals from Robbie Brady and one each from Anthony Pilkington and James McClean helped the Irish to victory, with Max Diskerud grabbing the Americans’ sole goal.