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International Friendlies Thursday Wrap: Mexico triumph over World Champions, Spain leave it late

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Three of Europe's most dominating forces were on display last night in the World Cup warm up games that took place. Five of the six teams were sides that will hope to create history at this edition of the FIFA World Cup going to be held in South Africa. With just one week to go for the show piece event, teams are making their final preparations and these warm up games give both the participants and the supporters a good indication of how far the teams have grown in the build up to the World Cup.

Italy 1 - 2 Mexico

ricardo_osorio.jpgEl Tri took on the defending champions Italy in Brussels, Belgium in a game that was deemed as good preparation for both teams going into the World Cup. The Italians were undefeated in 8 games coming into this clash and despite fielding their strongest available side, the Azzurri crumbled to a 2 - 1 defeat at the hands of a strong and dominant Mexico team. Italy were the better team in the opening exchanges with Vincenzo Iaquinta's header hitting the crossbar and Antonio Di Natale's shot from an Andrea Pirlo through ball missing the target. Mexico broke the deadlock via Arsenal striker Carlos Vela who latched on to perfect chip from Giovani Dos Santos and slammed the ball into the net beyond Gianluigi Buffon.

They Mexicans didn't allow the Italians to settle as they created chance after chance. ‘Attack is the best form of defence' seemed to be the El Tri motto on the night and Marcello Lippi's team had no answer to their bombardment. Another inch perfect chipped pass, this time from veteran substitute Cuauhtemoc Blanco led to Mexico's second as another substitute Alberto Medina slotted the ball in the corner of the net with just over 5 minutes left on the clock. Leonardo Bonucci smashed in a rebound from Salvatore Boccheti's post hitting effort off a corner in the final minute of regulation time to give the Italians a life line. But their opponents kept the pressure up and managed to win the game in the end. The Italians take on fellow World Cup finalists Switzerland in a friendly on Saturday before beginning their title defence on the 16th of June against Paraguay. El Tri on the other hand will be full of confidence entering the World Cup and will kick start the biggest sporting event of the year with hosts South Africa on the 11th of June.

Germany 3 - 1 Bosnia Herzegovina

Three time World Champions Germany hosted a strong Bosnia Herzegovina team in Frankfurt last night. Holger Badstuber was making his debut on the night with Bayern Munich team-mate Phillip Lahm captaining the national team for the first time since taking over from the injured Michael Ballack. He didn't have a great start to the game though as his attempted overhead clearance didn't quite connect and the ball bounced off Bundesliga top scorer Edin Dzeko's chest into the goal over Manuel Neuer. The Germans did most of the attacking after going a goal down and Bosnia preferred to sit back and absorb all the pressure.

Thanks to a couple of inspired substitutions from Joachim Loew, the Germans improved vastly in the second period. Captain Phillip Lahm redeemed himself in the 50th minute as he dribbled the ball at the edge of the penalty box before unleashing a unstoppable drive that brought his team back into the game. The Bosnians were on the back foot ever since conceding the goal, never really being allowed a sight at the other end by the organized Germans. Marko Marin earned a penalty for the Germans in the 73rd minute after being brought down by Sanel Jahic. Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped up and slammed the ball in the left side of the goal to give Germany a 2 - 1 lead. Four minutes later Thomas Muller won the Germans another penalty and Schweinsteiger stepped up again to score his second goal on the night in similar fashion. The game was now out of Bosnia's grasp as Germany was far too dominant. It finished 3 - 1 in the favour of die Mannschaft. They travel to South Africa now to set ablaze the first FIFA World Cup on African soil and their campaign opens with a clash against the Socceroos on the 14th of June.

Spain 1 - 0 Korea Republic

2002 World Cup semi-finalists South Korea took on European Champions Spain in Innsbruk, Austria in a warm up game last night. Vicente Del Bosque made 9 changes to the team that faced Saudi Arabia last week with Pepe Reina coming in goal and Cesc Fabregas getting his first run out in months. Spain were on a 10 game winning streak dating back to their 3rd place play-off game against World Cup hosts South Africa in the Confederations Cup 2009. The Koreans on the other hand were handed a 1 - 0 defeat via Belarus in their last game. The Taegeuk Warriors were the better team in the opening exchanges but Spain started to settle into the game midway through the first half.

Both teams created enough chances to break the deadlock but the scoring boots didn't seemed to be on any of the players on the pitch. It took 86 minutes for one of the teams to break down and South Korea despite a very good display succumbed to the superiority of their opponents. Jesus Navas received the ball after David Villa's shot was saved by keeper Sung-Ryong and the Sevilla midfielder drilled the ball into the back of the net from 25 yards to score a deserved winner for La Furia Roja. The South Koreans would definitely take heart from this performance after threatening on many an occasion to take the game away from the Spaniards. Spain take on Poland at home before traveling to South Africa for their opening fixture while the South Koreans will take on Greece on the 12th of June to kick start their bid to set the world alight in this year's finals.

File Photograph Copyright: Shaun Brooks

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