Ballack limps off with thigh injury during Germany win

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The Independent Online

Michael Ballack is uncertain how long he will be sidelined after a right-thigh strain forced him off during Germany's 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Düsseldorf last night.

The Chelsea midfielder limped off the pitch a minute before the break and did not return. He admitted he was in pain and "not feeling well" when he left the stadium.

"It is definitely a strain, but I hope it's not serious," Ballack said. "We have to wait and see in the next few days how the pain is. I hope it does not get worse."

Kevin Kuranyi scored on his comeback and Mario Gomez notched on his debut for Germany. Kuranyi scored seven minutes into his first game for Germany since November 2005 and Gomez added his in the 30th minute. Torsten Frings scored from an angled free-kick in the 66th minute for Germany's third, before the Switzerland substitute Marco Streller cut the deficit in the 71st.

A first-half goal by Javier Saviola earned Argentina a clinical 1-0 victory over France in their friendly at the Stade de France. Argentina played punchy, inventive football throughout to deny the World Cup finalists on an icy Paris evening and give Alfio Basile his first win in his second spell as the national team coach following defeats against Brazil and Spain. The Barcelona forward Saviola struck the winner in the 15th minute following a typical flowing move, and Argentina never gave Les Bleus the chance to come back despite Franck Ribery's efforts in midfield.

Four Dutch goals in the second half made up for a poor first half as the Netherlands recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory over Russia in a friendly in Amsterdam.

Ryan Babel opened the scoring with a goal in the 68th minute with his fellow substitute Wesley Sneijder doubling the lead two minutes later. Vladimir Bistrov scored the goal of the night to give the visitors hope but Joris Mathijsen added a third with a header before Rafael van der Vaart converted a penalty to make it 4-1 two minutes from time.

The veteran striker Jan Koller scored an opportunistic goal in the opening minutes and set up another to lead the Czech Republic to a 2-0 win over Belgium. Koller got a leg to a corner to beat the goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen from close range before setting up Marek Kulic to seal the victory in the 74th minute.

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