Portugal stuns Spain, Argentina edges Brazil

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Portugal stuns Spain, Argentina edges Brazil


Portugal’s Helder Postiga, center, celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal as Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas, right, and Carles Puyol react during their friendly football match on Nov. 17 at Luz Stadium in Lisbon. [AP/YONHAP]

LONDON - World champion Spain suffered its worst defeat in 47 years as Portugal hammered its neighbors 4-0 in a Lisbon friendly arranged to promote the countries’ joint World Cup bid on Wednesday. In another big derby, played in Qatar, Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 courtesy of a stoppage-time Lionel Messi special.

The heavyweight clashes were the stand-out matches on a night of almost 40 friendlies around the world, where swathes of debutants stepped into the international limelight as their coaches took the opportunity to experiment.

There were a clutch of impressive away wins in Europe as France beat England 2-1 at Wembley; Belgium upset Russia 2-0; Norway overcame Ireland 2-1; and Greece defeated Austria 2-1. World Cup runners-up the Netherlands beat Turkey 1-0 but several of Europe’s other big guns failed to ignite.

Germany was held to a goalless draw in Sweden; Italy, with four debutants, drew with Romania 1-1 in Austria, in a game marred by racist chanting from Italian fans. Denmark against the Czech Republic also ended 0-0.

In the night’s two Euro 2012 qualifiers, Croatia beat Malta 3-0, and Finland thrashed San Marino 8-0. The World Cup is becoming a distant memory for Spain, which since their July triumph has lost 4-1 to Argentina and had difficulty beating Scotland in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

Spain beat Portugal 1-0 in the second round in South Africa, but despite having a near-full-strength side, they were outclassed and slipped to their worst defeat since Scotland beat them 6-2 in 1963.

Carlos Martins just before the break and Helder Postiga with a backheeled goal just after, put the hosts in control. A second for Postiga and Hugo Almeida’s stoppage-time fourth had the home fans in dreamland.

The money-spinning duel in the desert between Brazil and Argentina promised much but delivered only after a cagey 90 minutes had been played. Ronaldinho, left out of Brazil’s World Cup squad, looked lively on his comeback and almost scored with a back heel. But in the second minute of stoppage time Messi showed why he inherited the crown. The striker picked his way through a ragged Brazilian defence showing great control before angling in a low shot. It was Argentina’s first win over Brazil in six matches since 2005.

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