It was a night of frustration for Luis Suarez as Uruguay, one of England's group opponents at the World Cup in June, were held to a 1-1 draw by Austria in Klagenfurt.
Liverpool striker Suarez thundered a free-kick against the bar and failed to convert an excellent chance when clean through on the Austria goal as Oscar Tabarez's side strove to cancel out Marc Janko's 14th-minute opener.
With fellow striker Edinson Cavani missing through injury and his replacement Diego Forlan lacklustre, Uruguay finally scrambled an equaliser with 24 minutes to go, left-back Alvaro Pereira turning the ball home from a corner.
Brazil cruised to a 5-0 win over South Africa in Johannesburg, Neymar scoring a hat-trick for the World Cup hosts, who changed kits at half-time to show off their new second strip, after Chelsea's Oscar had given them the lead in the 10th minute by racing beyond a square defence to finish into the bottom corner. Fernandinho also got on the scoresheet, the Manchester City midfielder getting his first goal for the Selecao with a stunning long-range effort.
Argentina were held to a goalless draw by Romania in Bucharest despite the best efforts of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. The City striker was denied by a fine stop from goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu after a solo run, then had another effort cleared off the line.
Germany were also rather unconvincing in their 1-0 win over Chile in Stuttgart. Mario Götze got the Germans' winner in the 16th minute, curling the ball into the top corner from just inside the Chile penalty area after being set up by Arsenal's Mesut Özil. However, the visitors forced Joachim Löw's side back for long periods and missed several good chances.
France enjoyed an encouraging 2-0 win over a disappointing Netherlands in Paris. Karim Benzema beat Jasper Cillessen in the 32rd minute with a rising drive from 20 yards that the young Ajax goalkeeper should have saved. He had no chance with France's second though, a stunning leaping volley from Blaise Matuidi at the far post.
Belgium, many people's dark horses to do well in Brazil, let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Ivory Coast and were left to rue an amazing miss from Christian Benteke who blazed over when faced with an open goal five yards out. Ukraine got a morale-boosting win when they beat Jürgen Klinsmann's United States 2-0 in Cyprus.
In the friendlies involving the other British sides, Gareth Bale ran Iceland ragged as Wales won 3-1 in Cardiff, the Real Madrid winger setting up two goals and scoring the other.
Scotland also won, Scott Brown's goal with 13 minutes to go earning a 1-0 victory over Poland in Warsaw, the captain scoring from 20 yards after Charlie Adam's header was only half cleared.
Filip Djordjevic condemned Martin O'Neill to a first defeat as Republic of Ireland manager as Serbia came from behind to win 2-1 in Dublin.
Northern Ireland hung on for a grim 0-0 draw against Cyprus in Nicosia despite having West Bromwich Albion defender Gareth McAuley sent off with 15 minutes to go.