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FIFA WC friendlies: Ronaldo's brace revives Portugal; Messi-less Argentina defeat Italy

Ronaldo scored in added time as Egypt led from the front with the help of Mohamed Salah scoring, but it was the Real Madrid superstar who had the last say.

India TV Sports Desk India TV Sports Desk
New Delhi Published on: March 24, 2018 10:22 IST
Representative News Image
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES Ronaldo celebrates with players after winning the match vs Egypt

Cristiano Ronaldo scored with two stoppage-time headers and lifted Portugal to a stunning 2-1 win over Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt in a friendly between World Cup-bound teams Friday.

Salah seemed to have won the game with a 56th-minute shot worthy of his fast-rising star status from the edge of the Portugal penalty area.

India Tv - Salah opened the scoring for Egypt.

Image Source : GETTY IMAGESSalah opened the scoring for Egypt.

But one superstar was still on the field after Salah was substituted to a loud ovation in the 79th from fans at the Letzigrund in neutral Zurich.

Ronaldo first rose unchallenged to score from Ricardo Quaresma's left-flank cross in the second minute of time added on.

Two minutes later, Ronaldo powered a header low into the right corner of the goal from Quaresma's free kick on the right.

The winning goal was confirmed 90 seconds later after a video review for a possible offside.

India Tv - Ronaldo had the last say in the added time.

Image Source : GETTY IMAGESRonaldo had the last say in the added time.

Ronaldo came closest to scoring in the first half after Portugal was awarded a free kick when goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy picked up a backpass. His shot from near the penalty spot beat the defensive wall then was blocked by the leg of Abdallah El Said standing in the middle of the goal.

Salah struck with a classy goal early in the second half, collecting the ball 20 meters (yards) from the goal before spreading a pass to the left side of the area. As Portugal defenders drifted toward the goal, the Liverpool forward held his position in an increasing amount of space and met a return pass with a first-time, left-footed shot low into the left corner of the net.

Both teams stay in Switzerland for their next games against teams who did not qualify for the World Cup. Portugal plays the Netherlands on Monday in Geneva and Egypt stays in Zurich to face Greece on Tuesday.


India Tv - Argentina players celebrate after scoring

Image Source : APArgentina players celebrate after scoring

Without a slightly injured Lionel Messi, Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini provided late goals for Argentina in a 2-0 win over Italy in a pre-World Cup friendly on Friday.

Messi was left on the bench due to a minor muscular problem, with Paris Saint-Germain's Giovani Lo Celso getting the start instead at the center of Argentina's attack.

"(Messi) will probably play against Spain," Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said, looking ahead to Tuesday's match in Madrid. "I didn't want to risk him tonight."

India Tv - Messi and Aguero were benched for the match.

Image Source : APMessi and Aguero were benched for the match.

In the 75th, Banega scored from the edge of the area in between three defenders after Italy's Jorginho gave up possession near midfield.

Ten minutes later, Lanzini blasted a shot over two defenders into the top corner, past an outstretched Gianluigi Buffon.

Until he was taken off, Angel Di Maria was Argentina's most influential player. The PSG midfielder provided an inspired through ball for Gonzalo Higuain before the break that resulted in a difficult save from Buffon.

Di Maria injured a muscle in his right thigh and won't play against Spain.

Italy didn't threaten until early in the second half, when Ciro Immobile took advantage of a defensive error to roll across for Lorenzo Insigne, who blasted over the bar with only goalkeeper Willy Caballero to beat.

Insigne again came close then Caballero stopped an effort from Immobile before Argentina took control.

It was Italy's first match since failing to qualify for the World Cup and the debut of interim coach Luigi Di Biagio.

While 20-year-olds Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone made their national team debuts, much of Di Biagio's lineup consisted of veterans held over from the qualifying campaign.

"We could have done more, but let's not forget we were facing the World Cup runner-up and this was a valuable match to gain experience," Di Biagio said. "We made too many errors, especially in the first half, but we are trying and there is work to be done."

During the singing of the national anthems, each member of Italy's squad wore the No. 13 shirt of defender Davide Astori, who was found dead in his hotel room earlier this month after a suspected cardiac arrest before Fiorentina, his club, was to play Udinese.

India Tv - Juventus teammates Buffon and Higuain hug it out after the friendly

Image Source : APJuventus teammates Buffon and Higuain hug it out after the friendly

Italy also wore black armbands and a moment of silence was observed in Astori's memory before kickoff.

The minute of silence was also observed for Rene Houseman, Argentina's 1978 World Cup winner, who died Thursday at 64 after battling tongue cancer.

Italy next visits England at Wembley Stadium in London on Tuesday.

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