Italy embarrassed by Mexico as Fabregas returns for Spain win


Italy 1-2 Mexico

The World Cup holders Italy's unconvincing form ahead of the defence of their crown took a further nosedive last night when they slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat to Mexico in Brussels.

The world champions, whose previous match was a dour 0-0 draw with Cameroon in March, were undone by goals from Arsenal's Carlos Vela and Alberto Medina, before substitute Leonardo Bonucci pulled back a late consolation strike.

England were much criticised after labouring to a 3-1 victory over the Mexicans at Wembley 10 days ago, but that result now takes on a more positive complexion in light of the Italians' defeat.

The Azzurri started brightly, with Juventus forward Vincenzo Iaquinta heading against the bar in the third minute, but the Mexicans then took control of the tie. Tottenham Hotspur's Giovani Dos Santos was a constant danger and, in the 16th minute, found Vela unmarked in the Italian penalty area, his pass allowing the striker to score easily.

The Latin Americans always looked good value for their lead, and doubled it in the 83rd minute when veteran substitute Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who is set to play in his third World Cup finals, chipped over the Italian defence for Medina to settle the match.

The Bari defender Bonucci pulled one back in a goalmouth scramble three minutes from time, but it was not enough for Marcello Lippi's side. "We've been in the mountains [at an altitude training camp] for 10 days and we just came down," Lippi said afterwards.

"I know these players very well, I'm not sad at all. It's important to be in the right condition in 10 days or so."

Italy take on Switzerland in their final friendly tomorrow.

Spain 1-0 South Korea

Cesc Fabregas stepped up his comeback from injury by playing an hour of Spain's 1-0 victory over South Korea in Innsbruck. Jesus Navas struck a stunning winner as the European champions left it late to claim the win.

Five days after Fernando Llorente's injury-time effort earned them a 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia, Navas popped up four minutes from time to hit an unstoppable 25-yard effort into the top corner of the net.

That was Navas's first goal for his country and means Spain have now won 11 successive games. They had to work hard for the triumph, though, and it was not until the second-half introduction of some of their top players that they started to take a clear upper hand.

Coach Vicente del Bosque opted to start with a side made up largely of fringe players. Fabregas, playing for the first time after two months out, struck the woodwork in the 35th minute. The Arsenal captain, whose future is the subject of intense speculation with Barcelona keen on his services, had plenty of time to pick his spot from 18 yards but saw his curling shot clip the crossbar and go over.

He was given some playing time after resuming full training following a cracked fibula, but Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, who is recovering from knee surgery, was not risked.

Germany 3-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger converted two penalties in four minutes to seal a 3-1 win for Germany over Bosnia in their last World Cup warm-up game. The hosts looked sluggish in the first half but substitutes Thomas Müller, Marko Marin and Cacau added pace after the interval as Germany struck three times in 27 minutes.

Cacau, who replaced the out-of-form striker Miroslav Klose and set up Philipp Lahm's equaliser, and Müller, who came on for midfielder Piotr Trochowski and won Germany's second penalty, staked strong claims for a starting spot for the opening game against Australia.

Defender Lahm, making his debut as Germany captain, helped give the Bosnians a 15th-minute lead when he tried to clear the ball but struck striker Edin Dzeko and watched the deflected shot sail over keeper Manuel Neuer.

The 26-year-old Lahm, who will become Germany's youngest World Cup captain after succeeding injured Michael Ballack, made amends early in the second half when he fired in the equaliser after being fed by Cacau.

Germany upped the pace and should have added another through Mesut Ozil, who rattled the crossbar seconds after the equaliser. Schweinsteiger then struck two identical penalties in the 73rd and 77th minutes to give his team a deserved win.

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