Sport Football Germany trump England, South Africa shock Spain

Germany trump England, South Africa shock Spain

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Germany scored a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over England in a friendly at Wembley on Wednesday morning (AEDT), consigning their old rivals to successive home defeats for the first time since 1977.

The sides’ first meeting since Germany’s bruising 4-1 win in the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was decided by a 39th-minute header from Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker.

Roy Hodgson’s England had opportunities to equalise, notably when Andros Townsend hit the post in the second half, but after Friday’s 2-0 loss to Chile at the same venue, they end the year with a pair of defeats.

Germany have now won on their last six visits to England – including a penalty shoot-out success at Euro 96 – and will look ahead to 2014 with their status as serious World Cup contenders intact if not enhanced by a polished but unspectacular performance.

In Johannesburg, world champions Spain suffered only their second loss in 17 matches after losing 1-0 to South Africa in a friendly.

Midfielder Bernard Parker scored the early second-half winner, chipping goalkeeper Victor Valdes from close range and a desperate lunge from a defender could not keep the ball out.

A full-strength Spain side rarely threatened to equalise until Alvaro Arbeloa came close deep in stoppage time at the Soccer City stadium, where they defeated the Netherlands 1-0 to win the 2010 World Cup.

The shock defeat came five months after the only other reverse for the European champions this year – a 3-0 hiding from hosts Brazil in the Confederations Cup final.

“It was a fantastic result,” said South Africa coach Gordon Igesund. “The players were great and our tactics were spot on.

“We knew what Spain would do and planned accordingly. The supporters needed a result like this after our failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.”

Spain manager Vicente del Bosque, who signed a two-year contract extension until 2016 last week, offered no excuses after only his eighth defeat in 83 matches.

“We deserved to lose,” he said. “The team started the game very well and maybe we should have been better when it came to finishing.

“However, I cannot fault the attitude of my players. South Africa got better as the game progressed.”