Argentina beat Germany in WCup final rematch
DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP):
Angel di Maria set up three goals and scored the fourth himself as Argentina trounced Germany 4-2 in their friendly football game yesterday to get a small measure of payback after losing to the hosts in the World Cup final.
Argentina were up 4-0 after 50 minutes to dampen the home side's World Cup title celebrations in their first game since winning the final 1-0 in extra time in Brazil in July.
"It can't be revenge," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "You can't bring the final back."
With Lionel Messi absent due to a right leg injury, Di Maria assumed the instigator's role, setting up Sergio Aguero in the 21st minute, Erik Lamela's outstanding volley in the 40th and Federico Fernandez's headed goal two minutes after the interval.
"Angel di Maria showed why he is one of the five best players in the world," Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said.
Di Maria, who completed his move to Manchester United from Real Madrid last week, crowned his performance in the 50th with a chip over substitute Germany 'keeper Roman Weidenfeller, after a great run set up by Argentina captain Javier Mascherano.
Andre Schuerrle pulled one back from a rebound two minutes later, before Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final, made it 4-2 with a deflected shot in the 78th.
Both sides fielded much-changed lineups to the ones that contested the biggest game in world football in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium 52 days earlier.
Germany made seven changes to their team. Captain Philipp Lahm, fellow defender Per Mertesacker and record scorer Miroslav Klose all retired after the final, while coach Loew also had to contend with a host of injuries.
"Actually, I can't make any accusations against the team, they had never played together like that before," Loew said.
Martino, who took over from Alejandro Sabella after the World Cup final, had to do without Messi on his debut. He did, however, have Di Maria - who missed the title match with an injury.
"We would have beaten them even if Di Maria played on July 13," Loew said.
Martino said Di Maria made himself "more prominent" than he had been at the World Cup.
Starting his second World Cup cycle as US coach, Jurgen Klins-mann has set a bold goal for the Americans: reach the final four of the 2018 tournament in Russia.
The US opened four years of preparation by beating the Czech Republic for the first time in four meetings, using a youthful roster to win 1-0 in an exhibition last night, with an Alejandro Bedoya's 39th-minute goal in Prague.
"It just shows that the States has a deeper pool," Bedoya said. "There's a bunch of great, young, talented players coming through."
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney marked the start of his England captaincy by scoring a penalty in an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Norway in front a record-low crowd for the team at the new Wembley Stadium.
In England's first game since their worst-ever World Cup showing, Roy Hodgson's side rarely looked like scoring against an unambitious opposition and the breakthrough in the friendly only came when Raheem Sterling was tripped in the penalty area.