By DAN KARELL
In a wild day of international soccer, perhaps the most surprising result came at St. Jakob-Park in Basel.
Switzerland, who held the majority of the chances in the match, defeated an out-of-form Brazil team, 1-0, off an own goal by Brazil right back Daniel Alves. The result ended Brazil’s 11-match run unbeaten, which included a Confederations Cup title at the end of June.
With a squad of majority European-based players, Brazil didn’t look as sharp as they had back in June, as a number of their stars are just returning to full fitness for their clubs and haven’t hit form. Switzerland looked the livelier nation early, with a couple of long range blasts from Xherdan Shaqiri being denied by Brazil goalkeeper Jefferson.
The South American’s came closest to scoring in the 39th minute when Paulinho flicked-on a free kick that slammed off the crossbar. Three minutes into the second half, Switzerland found their breakthrough. Shaqiri played his Swiss teammate Haris Seferovic towards the byline in the box, and Seferovic’s cross was expertly headed into his own net by Alves in stunning fashion, giving the Swiss a shock lead and an eventual win.
Here’s a closer look at some of Wednesday’s international soccer action:
LAMBERT SCORES WINNER VS. SCOTLAND
In a rare friendly match between England and Scotland, it figures that the script would be written in fairy-tale style.
31-year-old Rickie Lambert of Southampton marked his England debut as a second-half substitute with a powerful header goal, giving the Three Lions a 3-2 lead in the 70th minute that would turn into victory over Scotland at Wembley Stadium. The goal completed Lambert’s rags to riches story, from playing in England’s fourth division in 2001 to finally reaching the Premier League last year and earning an international call-up this summer.
Scotland’s James Morrison actually put the visitors in front in the 11th minute, but England’s Theo Walcott single-handedly took on two defenders and finished at the far post to tie the match in the 29th minute.
The back and forth nature of the game continued in the second half as Kenny Miller of the Vancouver Whitecaps scored a brilliant left-footed strike in the 49th minute, only for Danny Welbeck’s header four minutes later to cancel it out. Finally, just minutes after entering the pitch, Lambert rose highest on a corner kick to give England the lead once and for all as they held on for victory to celebrate the FA’s 150th anniversary.
ARGENTINA TOPPLE ITALY IN ROME
Even without Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli in attendance, plenty of quality was still on display highly-anticipated friendly match in Rome.
Gonzalo Higuain scored a goal and an assist to put the visiting Argentina up 2-0 in the second half, before Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne cut the deficit in half in the 75th minute. However, it was not enough as Argentina held on to the 2-1 victory against their old international rivals at the Stadio Olimpico.
The match set up to honor Pope Francis, an Argentine, saw a nice piece of skill by Higuain to open up space for himself and finish in the 21st minute. Four minutes after the halftime break, Ever Banega took a pass from Higuain and sent a low strike past Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon for a two-goal lead. Insigne, in just his second appearance for Italy, curled in a beautiful goal to put the hosts on the board in the 75th minute, though their attempts at finding a leveler would come to no avail.
Here’s a long list of Wednesday’s international soccer matches (all matches friendlies unless otherwise noted):
Northern Ireland 1, Russia 0 (World Cup qualifier-UEFA)
Japan 2, Uruguay 4
South Korea 0, Peru 0
Egypt 3, Uganda 0
Finland 2, Slovenia 0
Chile 6, Iraq 0
Sweden 4, Norway 2
Romania 1, Slovakia 1
Ukraine 2, Israel 0
Colombia 1, Serbia 0
Turkey 2, Ghana 2
Liechtenstein 2, Croatia 3
South Africa 0, Nigeria 2
Hungary 1, Czech Republic 1
Austria 0, Greece 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3, USA 4
Switzerland 1, Brazil 0
Iceland 1, Faroe Islands 0
Poland 3, Denmark 2
Germany 3, Paraguay 3
Wales 0, Republic of Ireland 0
Macedonia FYR 2, Bulgaria 0
Italy 1, Argentina 2
England 3, Scotland 2
Belgium 0, France 0
Portugal 1, Netherlands 1
Ecuador 0, Spain 2
Mexico 4, Ivory Coast 1