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West Ham playmaker Arnautovic admits he’s playing hurt

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West Ham playmaker Marko Arnautovic is in his second season with the Hammers, and while leading West Ham with five goals on the season, he’s definitely not 100%. Still, his team needs him – both club and country – and so he’ll keep suiting up even through the pain.

Arnautovic, on international duty with Austria, admitted to hometown media that he needs regular medical treatment to stay on the pitch this season.

“I can not say if I’ll get an injection on Thursday,” Arnautovic said. “In my knee, fluid accumulates again and again. Of course, there are people who say they should rest themselves and do nothing for a week, but it’s just difficult.”

Arnautovic would not elaborate on the type of injection he is receiving, but it’s likely a steroid or other anti-inflammatory injection to keep the swelling in his knee to a minimum. He also may be having his knee drained, a painful process that involves physically removing fluid buildup through a syringe.

The 29-year-old was originally injured in a 3-1 win over Everton in mid-September, the club’s first win of the season. He was withdrawn from that match in the 64th minute after scoring a goal and assisting another, and missed the subsequent Premier League match against Chelsea. He returned to play 83 minutes against Manchester United the next time out, and has missed only one match since, playing the full 90 minutes in the other three.

To keep his knee as healthy as possible, Arnautovic told Sky Sports earlier last month that he was avoiding training too much. “The knee is not the best but I am fit and I can play,” Arnautovic said. “I’m not training a lot at West Ham to try and my knee calm.”

“After a game I need some rest for about two or three days. By the middle of the week I am training normally with the team, training in full. And on the weekend I can play, that is the most important thing. Obviously you can’t do anything on this bone bruise.”

UEFA Nations League: Belgium tops Switzerland on Lukaku brace

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A roundup of all of Friday’s action in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: PSG want Arsene Wenger for front-office role ]

Belgium 2-1 Switzerland

Romelu Lukaku scored the 44th and 45th goals of his Belgium career (he’s already the all-time leading scorer in his country’s history, at the age of 25, 15 goals ahead of second place) on Friday, which were all the Red Devils needed to top Switzerland in League A Group 2 play.

Manchester United’s star striker opened the scoring in the 58th minute before Mario Gavranovic drew the visitors level in the 76th. The 1-1 scoreline was short-lived, though, as Lukaku bagged the eventual winner in the 84th minute. The victory makes Belgium a perfect two-for-two in group play and sends them three points clear of the second-place Swiss.

Croatia 0-0 England

A rematch of the 2018 World Cup semifinals, this should have been a worthwhile clash in League A Group 4. Instead, it saw the two sides combine for just 14 shots (5 on target) and failed to produce a memorable moment in a game played behind closed doors. Spain sit top of the group, five points clear of both England and Croatia.

Austria 1-0 Northern Ireland

Marko Arnautovic broke a scoreless deadlock in the 71st minute to hand Austria its first victory and points in League B Group 3 play. With Bosnia & Herzegovina perfect after two games and sitting on six points, a draw would have done neither side much good on Friday.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League action

League C Group 2

Greece 1-0 Hungary
Estonia 0-1 Finland

League D Group 2

Moldova 2-0 San Marino
Belarus 1-0 Luxembourg

Saturday’s UEFA Nations League schedule (all games start at 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

League A Group 1

Netherlands vs. Germany

League B Group 1

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic — 9 p.m. ET

League B Group 4

Ireland vs. Denmark

League C Group 3

Norway vs. Slovakia — 12 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Cyprus

League D Group 1

Latvia vs. Kazakhstan — 12 p.m. ET
Georgia vs. Andorra — 12 p.m. ET

League D Group 4

Armenia vs. Gibraltar — 12 p.m. ET
Macedonia vs. Lichtenstein

Int’l friendlies: Germany, Iceland lose late; Ireland tops USMNT

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With the 2018 World Cup just a dozen days away from kicking off, 32 nations are will put more thought and care into the next two weeks’ worth of friendlies than at any other point during the four-year cycle.

[ MORE: England top Nigeria on goals scored by Kane, Cahill ]

A roundup of Saturday’s friendly action involving World Cup-bound sides, plus the U.S. men’s national team…

Austria 2-1 Germany

The defending world champions suffered defeat in their next-to-last tune-up before heading to Russia, 2-1 at the hands of neighboring Austria.

Mesut Ozil put the visitors ahead after 11 minutes, deftly curling a left-footed strike inside the far post from 15 yards out, but a pair of second-half goals, scored by Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schopf, overturned the deficit and kept Joachim Loew’s side winless in 2018 (two losses, one draw).

For of the Germans’ front-six (everyone but Ozil and Nils Petersen) had been subbed off before Schopf’s winner, as Loew made wholesale changes in order to keep starters fresh and the backups sharp.

Ireland 2-1 USA — FULL RECAP

After going ahead — completely against the run of play — through Bobby Wood’s close-range finish just before halftime, interim head coach Dave Sarachan’s Yanks through their lead away and were beaten by a 90th-minute winner scored by Alan Judge. Bill Hamid gaffe all but gifted the Irish their equalizer just before the half-hour mark, and Matt Miazga was badly beaten in the build-up to the winner.

Iceland 2-3 Norway

Much like Germany, Iceland made sweeping substitutions throughout the second half of Saturday’s friendly against Norway, and in the end it proved their undoing as the scoreline went from 1-1 to 3-2 during a 15-minute period late in the second half, thanks to some Premier League flavor.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson put Iceland ahead with his 19th international goal in the 70th minute, but Bournemouth’s Joshua King equalized 10 minute later and Crystal Palace’s Alexander Sorloth grabbed the winner in the 85th.

Elsewhere in int’l friendlies

England 2-1 Nigeria — FULL RECAP
Belgium 0-0 Portugal — MORE
Sweden 0-0 Denmark
Mexico vs. Scotland — 8 p.m. ET
Honduras vs. El Salvador — 8 p.m. ET

Russia slumps to 1-0 defeat in Austria for 3rd straight loss

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INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) World Cup host Russia slumped to a 1-0 defeat in a friendly against Austria on Wednesday, extending its winless streak to six matches.

[ MORE: Newcastle signs Dubravka ]

Russia has lost all three games in 2018 after defeats to Brazil and France in March, and has not won a game since beating South Korea in October.

Austria winger Marko Arnautovic set up midfielder Alessandro Schoepf for the only goal in the 28th minute, giving coach Franco Foda his fourth win from four matches since taking over from Marcel Koller in November after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Russia plays Turkey in Moscow on Tuesday in its final warmup game before opening the World Cup against Saudi Arabia on June 14.

Brazil to play Austria in final warmup game for World Cup

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VIENNA (AP) The Austrian soccer federation says Brazil will play its final warmup game for the World Cup against Austria on June 10, a week before the five-time world champions take on Switzerland in their Group E opener.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of friendly ]

The match will be played in Vienna at Ernst Happel Stadium, the same venue where both teams last met in a 2014 friendly, which Brazil won 2-1.

Brazil has further build-up games against World Cup host Russia (March 23), world champion Germany (March 27) and Croatia (June 3) ahead of the June 14-July 15 tournament, where it also meets Costa Rica and Serbia in the group stage.

Austria failed to qualify for the World Cup but will also play friendlies against Russia on May 30 and Germany on June 2.