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Mar 5, 2014

Neymar treble, Spain beat Italy

A hat trick from Neymar helped Brazil to a 5-0 rout of South Africa on Wednesday, while there were also wins for England, Portugal, France, Spain and Germany.

Neymar helped himself to a hat trick against South Africa.
Neymar took his international tally to 30 goals.

Neymar's trebled fired Brazil to a 5-0 rout of 2010 hosts South Africa, who will not be in Brazil this summer.

The Barcelona striker took his international tally to 30 goals in 47 games in a fine display by the five-time world champions. Chelsea playmaker Oscar and Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho were also on target in front of 51,000 spectators at Soccer City.

The trio all impressed, along with the likes of Hulk and Paulinho, leaving Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari with plenty to ponder ahead of his squad announcement on May 7.

Pedro's second-half strike handed Spain a 1-0 victory over Italy in Madrid.

The Barcelona forward struck the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute in a match that the world champions dominated for long stretches.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque handed Diego Costa his national team debut.

The Atletico Madrid striker - who coincidentally made his Brazil debut in a friendly against Italy - was included in the starting XI and turned in a solid performance in his club's stadium, the Vicente Calderon.

Karim Benzema continued his prolific form by scoring a superb goal and helping to create another as France beat Netherlands 2-0 in Paris.

Running onto a pass from midfielder Blaise Matuidi in the 32nd minute, Benzema let the ball bounce over his shoulder and did not even break stride as he thumped a powerful shot over goalie Jasper Cillessen's hands.

Matuidi added the second goal in the 41st, with Benzema playing a key part in a sweeping move.

Daniel Sturridge's late header gave England a 1-0 victory over Denmark on a largely ineffective night for Roy Hodgson's team in their final friendly before the squad is named.

The Liverpool striker netted his 20th goal in 28 games for club and country this season when he met Adam Lallana's cross at the far post in the 82nd minute.

Although frustrated by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel's flurry of saves, England's display lacked urgency as they only just avoided a third straight Wembley game without scoring.

Germany celebrate Mario Goetze's winner against Chile.
Germany celebrate Mario Goetze's winner against Chile.

Mario Goetze scored but Germany failed to impress in a 1-0 win over a Chile side that deserved more from the game.

Goetze struck against the run of play in the 16th minute after Mesut Ozil eluded three defenders on the edge of the area. Goetze took the Arsenal midfielder's pass with his right foot and then scooped it over goalkeeper Johnny Herrera with his left.

Portugal thrashed Cameroon 5-1 with two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo put the home side in front after 21 minutes only for Vincent Aboubakar to level just before the break. But the Portuguese would not be denied their victory as Raul Meireles, Fabio Coentrao, Edinho and another from Ronaldo -- to become Portugal's new all-time record goalscorer with a tally of 47 -- left Cameroon with no answer.

Romania held Lionel Messi's Argentina to a 0-0 draw. Argentina demonstrated their superior technical skills and kept up the pressure throughout a game watched by 47,000 people on a wet evening at the National Arena in Bucharest.

However, Romania proved tenacious in defence and were clearly determined not to lose against one of the favourites for the World Cup.

Argentina's best chance came in the 84th minute when Messi intercepted a ball in the box and passed to Angel Di Maria, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Ciprian Tartarusanu.

Tim Cahill became Australia's all-time leading goalscorer only to then watch his side blow a three-goal lead to lose 4-3 to Ecuador in London.

The Socceroos looked on course for their third successive win under new boss Ange Postecoglu when Cahill twice headed home, either side of winning a penalty for skipper Mile Jedinak to convert, in the first half.

The match turned in two mad minutes shortly after the break. Fidel Martinez pulled a goal back on 57 minutes before Australia goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was sent off. Replacement goalkeeper Brad Jones' first act was to pick Segundo Castillo's penalty out of his net.

Enner Valencia bundled home an equaliser on 77 minutes before Edison Mendez struck the winner in injury-time after Australia tried to pass their way out of defence only to give the ball away under pressure.

Midfielder Alvaro Pereira scored a second-half equalizer to help Uruguay draw 1-1 with Austria.

Two minutes after replacing Cristian Rodriguez, Pereira tapped in after Austria goalkeeper Robert Almer failed to gather the ball in the 66th.

Austria captain Marc Janko had given the home side the lead after 14 minutes, beating goalkeeper Fernando Muslera with a low shot from just inside the area.

Ivica Olic earns Croatia a draw in Switzerland.
Ivica Olic earns Croatia a draw in Switzerland.

Switzerland's young forward Josip Drmic and Croatia veteran Ivica Olic both scored twice as their World Cup-bound countries drew 2-2.

Drmic, who has Croatian family roots, scored his first national team goals to give Switzerland two first-half leads, and ensure coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will want to take the 21-year-old player to Brazil in June.

Ukraine's national football team gave their troubled country something to cheer about when they beat United States 2-0.

The match had been overshadowed by the turmoil in Ukraine and their players said before the game that they were dedicating it to their people back home.

Ukraine's opener first came in the 12th minute when Andriy Yarmolenko pounced on the rebound after an initial shot by Denys Garmash was parried by goalkeeper Tim Howard.

A speedy run down the middle by substitute Marko Devic in the 68th caught the U.S. defence flatfooted and the Metalist Kharkiv forward scored at the second attempt when Howard again blocked the initial shot.

With their injured striker Radamel Falcao watching from the stands, Colombia drew 1-1 against Tunisia in Barcelona.

Colombia finished with 10 men when Luis Amaranto Perea was sent off. It was Colombia's first match since Falcao underwent surgery on his left knee just over a month ago. He hopes to be back when the World Cup begins in three months.

James Rodriguez gave Colombia a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute with a penalty. Khazri Wahbi equalised in the 35th.

Alexander Kokorin and Dmitry Kombarov scored in the first half to send Russia to a 2-0 victory over Armenia.

Kokorin opened the scoring with a low shot off Alexander Samedov's cross from the right in the 21st minute. Kombarov doubled the lead by converting a penalty after Artak Yedigaryan fouled Samedov in the box in the 43rd.

Russia dominated from the start and came close to scoring several times, only for Roman Berezovsky to deny Yuri Zhirkov's attempt in the sixth minute and block Kokorin's low backheel shot four minutes later.

At the other end, Henrik Mkhitaryan tested Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev with a low bouncing shot from outside the box midway through the first half. Russia coach Fabio Capello substituted four starters at the interval and made two more substitutions later on. Russia never looked as convincing as they did in the first half, and Akinfeev had to make a series of saves.

"The match was played at high speed and should have helped our players to feel the rhythm of real football after a winter break," Capello said. "All our players were in different physical conditions, but generally I'm satisfied with the team's presentation."

Kim Shin-wook joins goalscorer Son Heung-min (l) in celebration in the win against Greece.
Kim Shin-wook joins goalscorer Son Heung-min (l) in celebration in the win against Greece.

Park Chu-young marked his return to South Korea's national team by scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Greece.

The 28-year-old Arsenal striker, currently on loan at Watford, was recalled after a 13-month absence and scored in the 18th minute off an expert overhead pass from Koo Ja-cheol.

Koo also set up the second goal in the 55th with Son Heung-min beating Panagiotis Glykos with an angled shot.

Greece hit the bar three times in the first half. Costas Katsouranis squandered a cross from Jose Holebas in the 21st. Vassilis Torosidis headed onto the crossbar nine minutes later and Kostas Mitroglou found the same spot off the rebound.

The Greeks failed to produce much toward the end as South Korea tired at Karaiskaki stadium.

Substitute Yiannis Fetfatzidis added some urgency to Greece's lackluster offense, sending the ball over the bar in the 75th.

Japan scored four times in 13 minutes and cruised past New Zealand 4-2.

Shinji Okazaki opened and closed Japan's scoring burst, putting the host on the scoresheet just four minutes in when he took a pass from Shinji Kagawa and beat New Zealand goalkeeper Glen Moss.

"We played well for the first 30 minutes and were able to execute our game plan," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said. "After that, our pace slowed and New Zealand made a game of it."

Kagawa doubled the lead three minutes later from the penalty spot after he was hauled down in the area.

Masato Morishige's header off a Keisuke Honda free kick in the 11th made it 3-0 and Okazaki widened the lead six minutes later with a left-footed shot that deflected in off Moss' hands.

"I was able to score early when we had a lot of chances," Okazaki said. "We had some issues as the game went on and there are some areas where we need to do better."

New Zealand, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, got both their goals from Chris Wood, in the 39th and with 15 minutes left.

Turkey beat Sweden 2-1 with headers from Mevlut Erdinc and substitute Olcan Adin.

Erdinc powered his header into the low right corner of the net after just two minutes when Gokhan Gonul lobbed the ball in from just outside the penalty area.

Neither team has qualified for the World Cup in Brazil.

Kosovo dominated much of the friendly with Haiti in a stadium refurbished in the northern town of Mitrovica for Kosovo's first outing.

In January, FIFA cleared its member countries to organize national and club matches against the former Yugoslav province. The move came despite Serbia objecting to Kosovo having a national team because it considers the territory as its own.

Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade rejects the move and blocks the territory's membership in international political and sport organizations.

Regardless of the lack of goals, the sellout crowd of 18,000 was entertained by the international football debut of its Kosovo team on Wednesday.

At the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Mexico and Nigeria played to a scoreless draw in front of 68,212 fans. Raul Jimenez's late header for Mexico went just wide.

In Central America, New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengston and Jerry Palacious scored in Honduras' 2-1 home victory over Venezuela, and Arsenal forward Joel Campbell and Jorge Rojas scored in Costa Rica's 2-0 victory over visiting Paraguay.

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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