DUSSELDORF - Argentina spoiled the party for world champions Germany by hammering the hosts 4-2 in an international friendly in Duesseldorf on Wednesday in a repeat of the World Cup final. Manchester United's record British signing Angel Di Maria scored once and made goals for Sergio Aguero, Erik Lamela and Federico Fernandez as Argentina won their first game since losing to Germany in Brazil.
Andre Schuerrle and Mario Goetze replied but Germany were brought crashing down to earth by a ruthless Argentina display in what was Gerardo Martino's first match in charge of the South Americans. Only four players who started the World Cup final were in the German line-up, with Manuel Neuer captaining the side in the absence of his injured Bayern Munich teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Argentina's team showed just four changes from the last time the sides met, with Javier Mascherano wearing the captain's armband in place of absent Barcelona star Lionel Messi. Di Maria, who missed the World Cup final through injury, set the tone of things to come with a piercing run early on before Mario Gomez missed the first of a string of scoring chances that came his way. Argentina keeper Sergio Romero stood tall when the Fiorentina striker was sent clean through and turned his shot over. There was real quality on show when Argentina got the opening goal after 20 minutes. Getting possession near the corner of the penalty area, di Maria played in a sumptuous cross with the outside of his left foot that left the unmarked Aguero with an easy close-range finish.
Elsewhere, Aleksandr Kerzhakov starred as 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia, still under the management of Italian coach Fabio Capello, eased to a 4-0 defeat of Azerbaijan in Moscow, the former Sevilla man scoring twice as the Russians dominated from start to finish. Back in action after their underwhelming Brazil 2014 campaign, England edged out Norway at Wembley. After spurning several chances, the Three Lions finally secured victory when newly appointed skipper Wayne Rooney converted a second-half penalty. USA arrived in Prague to take on Czech Republic with a much-changed line-up from the one that reached the last 16 in Brazil to carve out a 1-0 win. Over in Odense, Denmark took on Turkey in a match that marked the start of both sides’ attempts to get back into the world elite. Daniel Agger put the hosts ahead from the spot, with Olcay Sahan levelling things up and Ozan Tufan firing in a stoppage time winner for the Turkish.
There were mixed fortunes for Asia’s sides. United Arab Emirates drew 1-1 with Lithuania and Oman went down to defeat to Republic of Ireland, while Myanmar beat Palestine 4-1 and Philippines overcame Chinese Taipei 5-1.