Di Maria leads Argentina past Germany

AP

Angel di Maria set up three goals and scored the fourth himself as Argentina trounced Germany 4-2 in their friendly game Wednesday to get a small measure of payback after losing to the host in the World Cup final.

Argentina was up 4-0 after just 50 minutes to dampen the home side’s World Cup title celebrations in its first game since winning the final 1-0 in extra time in Brazil in July.

“It can’t be revenge,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “You can’t bring the final back.”

With Lionel Messi absent due to a right leg injury, di Maria assumed the instigator’s role, setting up Sergio Aguero in the 21st minute, Erik Lamela’s outstanding volley in the 40th, and Federico Fernandez’ headed goal two minutes after the interval.

“Angel di Maria showed why he is one of the five best players in the world,” Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said.

Di Maria, who completed his move to Manchester United from Real Madrid last week, crowned his performance in the 50th with a chip over substitute Germany ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller, after a great run set up by Argentina captain Javier Mascherano.

Andre Schuerrle pulled one back from a rebound two minutes later before Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final, made it 4-2 with a deflected shot in the 78th.

Both sides fielded much-changed lineups to the ones that contested the biggest game in world soccer in Rio de Janeiro 52 days earlier.

Germany made seven changes to its side. Captain Philipp Lahm, fellow defender Per Mertesacker and record scorer Miroslav Klose all retired after the final, while coLoew also had to contend with a host of injuries.

“Actually I can’t make any accusations against the team, they had never played together like that before,” Loew said.

Martino, who took over from Alejandro Sabella after the final, had to do without Messi in his debut. He did, however, have di Maria — who missed the title match with an injury.

“We would have beaten them even if di Maria played on July 13,” Loew said.

England edges Norway

London AP

Wayne Rooney marked the start of his England captaincy by scoring a penalty in an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Norway in front a record-low crowd for the team at the new Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

In England’s first game since its worst-ever World Cup showing, Roy Hodgson’s side rarely looked like scoring against unambitious opposition and the breakthrough in the friendly only came when Raheem Sterling was tripped in the penalty area.

From the penalty spot, Rooney’s 41st international goal in the 68th minute gave the 28-year-old striker sole possession of fourth place on the England scoring leaderboard, just eight behind Bobby Charlton’s record.

“We all could have done better,” Rooney said. “In the first half we moved quite well but they made it difficult for us and sat back and created a few opportunities in the first half.

“In the second half we started really sloppy and that was disappointing as we wanted to go out and really take the game to them.”

The attendance was given as 40,181 but appeared to be lower at 90,000-capacity stadium, given it included the 17,000 Club Wembley members who have access to every game.

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