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International friendly roundup: Italy, France ride impressive results into next week’s Euro 2016 qualifiers

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Italy 2, Netherlands 0 – Guus Hiddink’s return to the Netherlands’ traditional 4-3-3 setup saw terrible early returns, with a third minute goal from Ciro Immobile and a ninth minute red card to Bruno Martins Indi ending the Oranje’s chances early. When Daniele De Rossi converted from the spot (after Martins Indi’s foul), the game was practically decided, with Antonio Conte cruising in his Azzurri coaching debut.

Italy opens Euro 2016 qualifying on Tuesday against Norway, while the Netherlands visits the Czech Republic.

France 1, Spain 0 – A Spain side that saw David de Gea, Daniel Carvajal, Mikel San Jose, and Raul Garcia get starts was held without a shot on target, with Loic Remy’s 73rd goal giving Les Bleus a 1-0 win at Stade de France. Valencia’s Paco Alcaácer came on in the 67th minute for his international debut.

Spain opens its qualifying campaign on Monday against Macedonia. France plays a friendly in Serbia.

Belgium 2, Australia 0 – Tim Cahill started up top for a Socceroos side that went behind early in Liège, giving up an 18th minute goal to Napoli’s Dries Mertens. Thirteen minutes from time, a long distance shot from Axel Witsel doubled the Red Devils’ lead, capping a strong showing for a team missing Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

Australia faces Saudi Arablia in a friendly on Monday, while Belgium’s Euro qualifier in Israel has been postponed.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 3, Liechtenstein 0  – Returning to the field after a disappointing exit in Brazil, the home side went up in the first minute through Vedad Ibisevic. The Hoffenheim striker added his second in the 14th minute, with Edin Dzeko ending the game’s scoring 10 minutes later.

Bosnia and Herzegovina begins Euro 2016 qualifying Tuesday against Cyprus, while Liechtenstein does the same on Monday in Russia.

Croatia 2, Cyprus 0 – New Atlético striker Mario Mandzukic scored early in each half during a dominant performance by Croatia, even if that dominance failed to make its way onto the scoresheet.

Croatia starts its qualification tournament on Tuesday against Malta, while Cyprus will be in Zenica to face Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Other scores

Iraq 0, Peru 2
Slovakia 1, Malta 0
Sweden 2, Estonia 0
China 3, Kuwait 1
Belarus 6, Tajikistan 1

Tens of thousands welcomed Real Madrid home after Champions League final

Real Madrid bus (Photo credit: Real Madrid / Twitter: @realmadrid)
Photo credit: Real Madrid / Twitter: @realmadrid
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MADRID (AP) Tens of thousands of fans endured the rain to greet Real Madrid players as they returned home early Sunday from their triumph in the Champions League final.

[ MORE: Real top Atleti on penalty kicks — Ronaldo the hero again ]

Many waited all night after celebrating the team’s win over crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in a penalty shootout on Saturday in Milan.

The players arrived in Madrid at about 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) and traveled on an open bus to the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, where an estimated 30,000 supporters welcomed the team.

Players carried the Champions League trophy atop the bus, constantly showing it to the cheering fans. The word “Campeones” and “11” were displayed prominently on the bus, in reference to the club’s 11th European title.

[ MORE: Ronaldo — “Our team showed more experience” ]

Team captain Sergio Ramos, who scored Madrid’s goal in regulation time at the San Siro, took the walkway set up over the plaza’s fountain and draped the statue of the goddess Cybele with the club’s scarf and flag, then lifted the trophy high above the famous figure.

A huge video screen was set up at the plaza to allow fans to watch the final, and the party began right after Cristiano Ronaldo converted the final penalty kick in the shootout to give the club its second European title in three seasons. Light shows and music entertained the fans through the night.

Atletico Madrid supporters, who again were denied the opportunity to celebrate the title, had gathered at a different viewing spot to watch the final.

[ MORE: Bale — “We deserve it” ]

There were no reports of major incidents between fans of the rival clubs.

Real Madrid said “almost 80,000” fans watched Saturday’s final at the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where four huge screens were placed at midfield. The title celebration at the stadium included confetti thrown into the air as “We are the champions” played through loudspeakers.

The team will meet with the mayor of Madrid later on Sunday and again will parade through city streets.

The title celebrations will culminate at night at the Bernabeu.

Marek Hamsik absolutely smashes goal in Slovakia’s upset of Germany (video)

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA - MARCH 25:  Marek Hamsik of Slovakia runs with the ball during the international friendly match between Slovakia and Latvia held at Stadion Antona Malatinskeho on March 25, 2016 in Trnava, Slovakia.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images
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Marek Hamsik hit a ball with such momentous force that we’re not sure it rotated more than three full turns on its 20-yard flight into the goal.

The Slovakia star’s goal equalized a friendly with Germany at 1, and Repre went on to hammer the reigning World Cup champs by a 3-1 score.

[ USMNT-BOLIVIA: Recap3 things | Player ratings ]

I mean, really, what a hit. Bernd Leno had little hope of touching it.

Carrick praises Mourinho, reportedly will sign Manchester United extension

MONACO - MAY 27:  Michael Carrick attends the Red Bull Racing Energy Station at Monte Carlo on May 27, 2016 in Monaco, Monaco.  (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images
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Longtime Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick spoke glowingly of new boss Jose Mourinho amidst rumors he’ll sign a one-year extension with the Old Trafford set.

Carrick, 34, joined United from Tottenham in 2006, and has won major trophy after major trophy with the club. He wants more, and he doesn’t care how.

[ MORE: United hires Mourinho | Things he must do ]

The 34-times capped English midfielder has 421 appearances for United, and could fit neatly into a Mourinho system.

From The Mirror:

“You have to be number one and winning trophies and if you can do that with a bit of style and a bit of flair then that is the perfect match but first and foremost it is about winning and getting back on top.

“There is going to be change without a doubt because he is coming in and he is his own man.

“He has got an unbelievable track record and everyone is looking for quick results and that’s how it is.”

We have to wonder how the United fans who booed Louis Van Gaal after every turn will react to these comments, although wins cure everything, right?

Kante, James among players happy to stay put with champions

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 04: A dejected Simon Mignolet of LiverpSimon Mignolet of Liverpool (L) looks on as Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 4, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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There were many rumors than N'Golo Kante had a deal that would allow him to leave Leicester City, but the midfielder doesn’t sound like the leaving type.

According to L’Equipe, Kante isn’t looking to leave the Premier League champions, and is content to play in the UEFA Champions League with the Foxes next season.

[ UCL: Real Madrid wins | CR7 reacts | Bale, too ]

He’s been tipped to move to Real Madrid and Manchester City amongst other potential stops.

“For now, I am happy at Leicester,” he said. “I do not pay too much attention to everything that is said.”

That vibe is running through the headlines today, as UEFA Champions League winners Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez say they want to stay at Real Madrid, and Isco is also happy to come back to the Bernabeu to make a run at a first La Liga title since the 2011-12 season.