Spain, Brazil impress in World Cup warm-ups

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Xabi Alonso emerged as the two-goal hero as Spain downed Argentina while England came up short against five-time world champions Brazil in World Cup warm-ups.

Updated: November 15, 2009 11:13 IST
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Paris :

Xabi Alonso emerged as the two-goal hero as Spain downed Argentinawhile England came up short against five-time world champions Brazil inWorld Cup warm-ups.

On a packed programme of international friendlies on Friday, Italy andthe Netherlands drew a blank in Pescara while there was mixed fortunefor two other World Cup qualifiers.

Serbia, who topped their qualifying group to consign 2006 beaten finalists France to the play-offs, scraped a 1-0 win in Northern Ireland but Switzerland were defeated by the same scoreline by Norway.

World Cup hosts South Africa were held to a goalless draw by Japan, while the United States were felled 1-0 by Slovakia.

In Doha an injury-hit England received a World Cup reality check after coming up short against Brazil, the 1-0 scoreline in Doha flattering Fabio Capello's side.

Capello had to make do without first team regulars John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, and his wounded Three Lions were tamed by Nilmar's second half header.

Dunga's Brazil could have won by more but Luis Fabiano missed a penalty after Wes Brown's mistake forced keeper Ben Foster to foul the striker.

Capello though was putting a brave face on this only his fourth defeat since taking over the England reins. The Italian reflected: "I found some positives. I checked some players in this important game against the best team in the world.

"I learned the value of some players when playing against this team. But I don't like to speak about individual players. "They (Brazil) are a really good team but my first eleven will be better."

First time captain Wayne Rooney remarked: "I'm disappointed with the result. We are better than we showed here.

"We are looking to improve. Thankfully it is only a friendly and we will move on."

In Madrid Xabi struck in either half to fire Euro 2008 champions Spain to a 2-1 win over Argentina.

Real Madrid's star put one of the favourites for next year's World Cup into a 16th minute lead, the midfielder stabbing home a rebound after Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero could only parry away a shot from David Silva. 

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