Five World Cup teams were in action this afternoon with the 1-1 draw between Italy and Luxembourg headlining the results followed closely behind by the 2-2 draw between England and Ecuador. Elsewhere, Algeria showed some nice grit in a 2-1 win over Romania while the Netherlands dumped out a Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale-less Wales side 2-0.
The matches served as a pre-cursor to tonight’s fixtures when Argentina takes on Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay plays Slovenia, Chile faces off against Northern Ireland and Ivory Coast meets El Salvador.
Here’s an expanded rundown of this afternoon’s results.
Italy 1 Luxembourg 1: Maxine Chanot denied Italy their first win in seven matches when the Luxembourg defender headed the equalizer past Gianluigi Buffon with five minutes to play. The Azzurri jumped out to an early lead through Claudio Marchisio’s 9th minute goal but were unable to capitalize in the 2nd half, twice striking the woodwork. It was a worrying performance for Cesare Prandelli’s side, made up largely of first-team players including Mario Balotelli, who couldn’t find the back of the net despite his five shots.
England 2-2 Ecuador: In an open and entertaining match, a searing shot by Ecuador forward Michael Antonio Arroyo Mina in the 70th minute ensured a share of the spoils on a muggy day in Miami. La Tri opened the scoring just eight minutes into the match when Enner Valencia headed Ecuador in front after some poor defending by Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw. A scuffle in the box then saw Wayne Rooney level for England in the 29th minute before a sensational 51st minute strike by Rickie Lambert was cancelled out by Mina’s howitzer from the top of the box. Antonio Valenica and Raheem Sterling were sent off with 11 minutes to play when the latter came through the United winger, who reacted angrily by strangling the English youngster.
Algeria 2-1 Romania: Algeria and Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and Romania’s Alexandru Chipciu exchanged early goals before the two sides were removed from the pitch in the 43rd minute following fans throwing lit flares and bottles. After a 15 minute break the two squads returned to the pitch and in the 66th minute Algeria forward El Arabi Soudani nailed the winner that triggered 15 fans to run on the pitch at Switzerland’s Stade de Geneve.
Netherlands 2-0 Wales: It was a comfortable win for the Netherlands, who received a goal from Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens in each half of play. The real story, however, was Dutch striker Robin van Persie, fresh off recovering from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for six weeks, sparked injury concerns when he was withdrawn at halftime after struggling with fitness.
Antonio Conte feels he has a bit of an embarrassment of riches in his midfield, not that it’s a problem outside of deciding who hits the pitch.
The Chelsea boss does not plan on selling Nemanja Matic despite the acquisition of N'Golo Kante — in fact Conte thinks Matic can be one of the best in the world.
[ MORE: New club for Pato ]
That’s not surprising, given that Matic was one of the keys to Chelsea’s 2014-15 PL title run.
Conte says he has some tricky selections to make in the coming days, as Chelsea prepares to open its Premier League season Aug. 15 at West Ham United.
“Kante is a good player and he was a target of our market. I am pleased the club took this player, it’s fantastic,” said the 46-year-old. “The players in a great team like Chelsea must know there are many players that can play. It’s important for me to have a good choice to try the best solution game by game. It’s important for me to see always the right attitude and behaviour from the players.
“When I have players like N’Golo, Nemanja, Cesc, Oscar and Chalobah, and Mikel who is in the Olympics, it is not easy to choose. I want to have this problem.”
For a manager who loves to keep it tight in the midfield, it would be far from shocking to see Matic and Kante behind two attacking mids (Willian and Hazard?) or even three.
Regardless, Chelsea’s match day tactics will be one of the more fascinating subplots of 2016, especially when Conte matches up against the Blues’ former boss Jose Mourinho (Oct. 22 at Stamford Bridge and April 15 at Old Trafford).
MADRID (AP) Brazilian club Corinthians says it has agreed to transfer striker Alexandre Pato to Villarreal in Spain.
Corinthians says on its club website that it has “agreed to the final administrative details of the negotiation” for Pato’s move to Villarreal.
[ MORE: MLS All Star Game preview ]
It adds that both clubs have agreed to not release the financial details of the transfer.
The 26-year-old Pato played for AC Milan from 2007 to 2013, before returning to his native Brazil with Corinthians. He played the second half of last season on loan at Chelsea in the English Premier League.
When news of Sigi Schmid’s departure from Seattle broke, there were plenty of folks wondering who could be the second coach in the Sounders’ MLS history.
One of those doing so publicly was ESPN writer Marc Connolly, who asked whether former Wigan and Everton boss Roberto Martinez could be interested in the gig.
[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]
Fellow media member Taylor Twellman is obviously well-connected, and his reply raised some eyebrows, especially given the news that technical director Carlos Bocanegra is closing in on selecting the first manager in Atlanta United history.
Ryan is the quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, for those unaware. Martinez and Twellman worked together for ESPN this summer.
Is Martinez to MLS really a thing? He’s also been linked to the vacant Hull City job, and would be one of the highest profile coaches to make the switch in the history of the league.
Four Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday, with two picking up wins and not a clean sheet in the joint.
[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]
MK Dons 1-3 Everton
Ronald Koeman‘s men got goals from Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Muhamed Besic, but wasn’t entirely pleased with every facet of their game.
“The team, the players, we need to press better. The pitch in some stages of the game was too long. If you press up front, it means the midfielders they need to push up as well and it’s the same for the defenders.”
Bolton 1-2 Burnley
Andre Gray will likely be a well-known Premier League entity when his career is done, and the way he’s playing it could be by the time this season is complete. The Burnley man scored for the fifth time in four preseason games, and Josh Ginnelly also scored for the Clarets.
Barnsley 2-2 Hull City
Adama Diomande and Jarrod Bowen scored as the Tigers stayed unbeaten in preseason play.
Spurs 1-2 Juventus — RECAP