PARIS: Xabi Alonso emerged as the two-goal hero as Spain downed Argentina while England came up short against five-time world champions Brazil in World Cup warm-ups on Saturday.
Italy and the Netherlands drew a blank while there was mixed fortune for two other World Cup qualifiers. Serbia scraped a 1-0 win in Northern Ireland but Switzerland were defeated by the same scoreline by Norway.
World Cup hosts South Africa were held to a goalless draw by Japan, while the United States were felled 1-0 by Slovakia. In Cardiff, Wales handed out a 3-0 drubbing to hapless Scotland.
In Doha, an injury-hit England received a World Cup reality check after coming up short against Brazil, the 1-0 scoreline flattering Fabio Capello’s side. Capello had to make do without John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, and England were tamed by Nilmar’s second half header. Dunga’s Brazil could have won by more but Luis Fabiano missed a penalty after Wes Brown’s mistake forced Ben Foster to foul the striker.
In Madrid Xabi struck in either half to fire Spain to a 2-1 win over Argentina. Xabi put Spain into a 16th minute lead, the midfielder stabbing home a rebound after Argentine goalie Sergio Romero could only parry away a shot from David Silva.
Argentina levelled through a Lionel Messi penalty on the hour mark but Xabi’s 86th minute spot kick ensured Spain the bragging rights over Diego Maradona’s side.