World Cup friendlies round-up: France and Belgium secure big wins

Sport360 staff 12:35 28/05/2014
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At the double: Olivier Giroud scored twice for France in a comfortable win over Norway.

As the World Cup draws ever closer, the teams are putting their squads through their final paces with a series of friendlies before the competition gets underway on June 12.

This week saw the French, Belgian, American, Japanese and Australian sides all in action with each country left with their own dilemmas just 15 days away from kick-off in Brazil.

France 4– 0 Norway

Olivier Giroud scored twice as France stepped up their World Cup preparations on Tuesday with a 4-0 victory over Norway at the Stade de France in the first of three pre-tournament friendlies.

Paul Pogba netted a first-half opener in Paris, while Giroud enhanced his reputation ahead of next month's finals in Brazil through a second-half brace that came either side of Loic Remy's first international goal since 2011.

Despite the absence of some key regulars, Didier Deschamps fielded a strong side featuring seven probable starters for Les Bleus' World Cup opener against Honduras on June 15.

They kick off their World Cup campaign against Honduras in Porto Alegre before facing Switzerland and Ecuador in Group E.

USA 2–0 Azerbaijan

Second-half goals from Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson lifted the United States to a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Playing their first match since manager Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 23-man squad for the World Cup finals – from which all-time leading US scorer Landon Donovan was a notable absentee – the United States still have a few things to sort out before heading to Brazil.

While Donovan's omission was big news, a big question remaining for the United States is who will be the starting central defence pairing when they take on Ghana in their World Cup opener on June 16.

Japan 1–0 Cyprus

Defender Atsuto Uchida spared Japan's blushes with a 43rd-minute winner as the Asian champions beat Cyprus 1-0 in their final home World Cup warm-up on Tuesday.

Japan, who looked heavy-legged after a punishing training camp last week, face Ivory Coast in their opening game at the World Cup in Brazil on June 14.

Right-back Uchida broke the deadlock in Saitama when he stabbed home the loose ball after Shinji Kagawa's close-range effort had been blocked, registering only his second goal in 66 internationals.

Australia 1–1 South Africa

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said his team are heading in the right direction but still have work to do ahead of the World Cup after an uninspiring 1-1 draw against South Africa.

While Australia did not play injured first-choice squad members Mile Jedinak, Mark Bresciano and Matthew Spiranovic on Monday, there was little to enthuse about before they depart for Brazil today.

The inexperienced Australians, the lowest ranked team in the World Cup at 59, face a daunting task in Brazil against title holders Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B. 

Belgium 5–1 Luxembourg

Romelu Lukaku scored a hat-trick as World Cup dark horses Belgium eased to a 5-1 win over minnows Luxembourg in the first of three pre-finals friendlies they will play before travelling to Brazil.

Lukaku, who had an excellent season on loan with Everton from Chelsea scoring 15 goals in the Premier League, was joined on the scoresheet by Tottenham Hotspur's Nacer Chadli and VfL Wolfsburg's former Chelsea attacking midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. 

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