Hamburg : Captain John Terry scored a late winner as England downed Germany 2-1 in an international friendly in Berlin while Luca Toni helped salvage a draw for world champions Italy against Greece and European champions Spain overcame Chile.
In other international action Wednesday, Diego Maradona celebrated his first match in charge of Argentina with a 1-0 victory over Scotland in Glasgow.
Maxi Rodriguez scored the only goal of the game after eight minutes at the end of a slick passing move involving Carlos Tevez and Jonas Gutierrez.
The prestige encounter of the evening was in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, however, where England’s revival under Fabio Capello continued apace with victory against Germany in front of a capacity 74,244 crowd.
Although the Italian was missing Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Chelsea teammates Ashley and Joe Cole as well as Emile Heskey and Theo Walcott because of injury, England were the stronger and deserved the victory.
Matthew Upson opened the scoring for the visitors in the 24th minute but a schoolboy error from Terry with goalkeeper Scott Carson, playing the second half for David James, had allowed a lacklustre home side to level in the 63rd.
Carson was hesitant in coming out to clear a harmless ball but Terry also waited instead of taking charge and second-half substitute Patrick Helmes nipped the ball through Carson’s legs to score.
However, Terry made amends with time running out when he outjumped Heiko Westermann to head a Stuart Downing free-kick powerfully past Germany goalkeeper Tim Wiese.
“We played very well, had a lot of chances to score goals and I liked the attitude of the team. We played with confidence, which is very very important, and with personality,” said Capello.
A handsome 3-0 defeat of Chile rounded off a wonderful 2008 for the Spanish national team.
Goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Santi Cazorla kept intact new manager Vicente del Bosque’s 100 per cent record – and stretched Spain’s unbeaten run to 28 games.
It is now exactly two years ago since “La Seleccion” suffered their last defeat, a run which lively but naive Chile never seemed capable of ending.
Torres said that he was “very proud to be part of this team,” whilst Cazorla added that “the philosophy is the same” as under Euro 2008 manager Luis Aragones.
Greece and visiting Italy settled for a 1-1 draw in Athens that gave World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi a record of 31 unbeaten games at the helm of the Azzurri.
Fanis Gekas put the home side in front on 50 minutes but Italy equalized just four minutes later through Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni, whose 16th goal for his country ended a barren period that lasted almost 700 minutes.
The draw sees Lippi, who returned to the helm at Italy last summer after winning the 2006 World Cup and following the removal of Roberto Donadoni, improve by one game an earlier record set by Vittorio Pozzo, a winner of two World Cups in the 1930s.
Serbia demolished Bulgaria 6-1 in Belgrade and could even afford the luxury of missing two penalties as Savo Milosevic bade farewell to the national side.
Serbia’s Milosevic netted twice and missed two early spot kicks in his 102nd and final appearance for his country before being substituted by Dragan Mrdja.
Craig Bellamy scored the only goal of the game to give Wales a 1-0 victory away to Denmark in Copenhagen, firing in a low shot from 20 metres after 77 minutes.
In other action, Israel played out a 2-2 with the Ivory Coast, Cyprus beat Belarus 2-1 while Montenegro prevailed against Macedonia by the same scoreline. Ukraine beat Norway 1-0 while Poland beat Ireland 3-2.