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England Beats Italy in Soccer Exhibition, Argentina, Spain Win

England Beats Italy in Soccer Exhibition, Argentina, Spain Win
English forward Jermain Defoe, left, controls the ball prior to scoring his team's second goal next to Italian defender Ignazio Abate during a friendly football match between Italy and England in the Swiss capital Bern on August 15, 2012. Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- England defeated Italy for the first time since 1997 as Argentina and Brazil secured soccer exhibition wins in Europe. Spain beat Puerto Rico in its first game since securing back-to-back European Championship titles.

Jermain Defoe scored with 10 minutes left in Berne, Switzerland, last night to give England a 2-1 victory and end its four-match winless streak against Italy, which won the teams’ June 24 Euro 2012 quarterfinal in a penalty shootout.

“It was good to blood new players and give some others who haven’t played so much a chance,” England manager Roy Hodgson said on the Football Association’s website. “They answered the challenge in the best possible way. It was a good victory.”

Italy, which lost to Spain in the European Championship final, had taken a 15th-minute lead through Daniel De Rossi’s header before Phil Jagielka tied it 12 minutes later. Defoe finished off an 80th-minute counterattack by arrowing a shot from the edge of the penalty area into the far corner.

World player of the year Lionel Messi scored one goal, missed a penalty kick and hit a post as Argentina beat 10-man Germany 3-1 in Frankfurt. Messi had his spot-kick saved by the replacement goalkeeper in the 32nd minute after starting goalie Ron-Robert Zieler was red carded.

Leandro Damiao’s first-half header and two goals from Alexandre Pato in the final 10 minutes gave Brazil a 3-0 win against Sweden in Solna. Elsewhere, France began Didier Deschamps’s tenure as coach with a 0-0 draw against Uruguay in Le Havre, while Belgium beat the Netherlands 4-2 in Brussels.

Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas scored in the first half as European and world champion Spain extended its unbeaten run to 12 matches in Puerto Rico.

Spain, which started the match with four players who began the 4-0 victory against Italy in the July 1 Euro 2012 final, will open the defense of its World Cup title Sept. 11 with a qualifying match against Georgia.

European qualifying for the 2014 tournament in Brazil begins Sept. 7, when Italy visits Bulgaria and England travels to Moldova.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at

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