By JOHN BOSCHINI
Any long-time soccer fan knows better than to put a lot of stock into international friendlies but, even so, fans of Ghana and Australia will be happy with their positive results against a couple of traditional European powerhouses.
A last-gasp equalizer from Asamoah Gyan gave the Black Stars a 1-1 draw against an understrengthed England side at Wembley. Andy Carroll opened the scoring and his England account with a blistering shot into the bottom corner in the 43rd minute.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart kept the home side in the game, but Ghana, which was playing in front of 21,000 traveling supporters, eventually found a breakthrough. Gyan, whose extra-time goal knocked the United States out of the World Cup, used some fancy footwork to work himself into the area and beat a screened Hart with a left-footed shot to the far post to earn the draw.
Australia continued its impressive run of form under new coach Holger Oscieck with a 2-1 victory in Germany in a World Cup group stage rematch. Germany thrashed the Socceroos, 4-0, in Durban last summer and took an early lead courtesy of a Mario Gomez strike. Germany should have extended its lead by halftime, but Australia's defense managed to hold.
The visitors turned a deficit into a lead in a three-minute span midway through the second half. A nifty back heel from Matt McKay put David Carney clear in on goal, and the Blackpool defender made no mistake on the breakaway. Harry Kewell was brought down just inside the penalty area just three minutes later, and Luke Wilshere's ensuing penalty kick secured the unlikely victory.
Goals from Giuseppe Rossi and Alessandro Matri gave 10-man Italy a simple 2-0 win over Ukraine. Rossi opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark with a close-range effort. Ukraine was given some hope when Davide Astori recieved a second yellow card, but Matri's late goal sealed the result
The Netherlands was pushed to the end but had enough firepower to earn a 5-3 victory over Hungary in 2012 European Championship qualifying. Robin Van Persie opened the scoring for the Dutch after just 13 minutes before second-half goals from Gergely Rudolf and Zoltan Gera gave Hungary a surprising lead. Goals from Wesley Sneijder and Ruud van Nistelrooy put Holland ahead before Gera drew Hungary level again with 15 minutes left. Finally, the Dutch pulled away with a double from Dirk Kuyt in the final 15 minutes.
Defending world champion Spain survived a minor scare when Lithuania held a 1-1 draw into the last 20 minutes, but an own goal and a Juan Manuel Mata strike ensured a 3-1 victory on a dodgy pitch.
Russia and Qatar battled to a 1-1 draw in a matchup of 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts. Mohammed Kasola put Qatar in the third minute, but Roman Pavlyuchenko equalized before halftime.
Argentina finished up its North American tour with a scoreless draw against Costa Rica. Lionel Messi did not play after going a full 90 minutes against the United States on Saturday.
Mexico conceded a late goal but still managed to earn a 1-1 draw against Venezuela. Aldo De Nigris put Mexico up just before the hour mark before Oswaldo Vicarrondo equalized 15 minutes before time.
Here are results from all of Tuesday's international action:
EURO 2012 QUALIFIERS
Turkey 2, Austria 0
Belgium 4, Azerbaijan 1
Estonia 1, Serbia 1
Northern Ireland 0, Slovenia 0
Romania 3, Luxembourg 1
Sweden 2, Moldova 1
Netherlands 5, Hungary 3
Israel 1, Georgia 0
Czech Republic 2, Liechtenstein 0
Spain 3, Lithuania 1
Japan vs. New Zealand, postponed
South Korea vs. Montenegro, postponed
China 3, Honduras 0
Canada 1, Belarus 0
Qatar 1, Russia 1
Ecuador 0, Peru 0
Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 0
Denmark 2, Slovakia 1
Chile 2, Colombia 0
Greece 0, Poland 0
Australia 2, Germany 1
Uruguay 3, Ireland 2
Italy 2, Ukraine 0
France 0, Croatia 0
England 1, Ghana 1
Portugal 2, Finland 0
Paraguay 1, USA 0
Costa Rica 0, Argentina 0
Mexico 1, Venezuela 1
What did you think of Tuesday's results? Would you label Ghana as the best team in Africa? Impressed with Australia's performance? What do you think about Rossi's impressive run for Italy?
Share your thoughts below.