Netherlands and Italy draw 1-1 in friendly, Argentina beat Sweden

Marco Verratti scored a late equaliser to salavage a draw for Italy while Argentina beat Sweden 3-2 despite Lionel Messi being held scoreless.

Updated: February 07, 2013 11:23 IST
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Amsterdam: Marco Verratti scored a 92nd minute equalizer as Italy salvaged a 1-1 draw against an experimental Netherlands team in a friendly on Wednesday.

Jeremain Lens gave the Netherlands a deserved lead in the 33rd minute and Italy did not look capable of clawing its way back into the match until a frenetic final few minutes were capped by Verratti's close-range strike.

AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, described this week by Silvio Berlusconi's brother as his family's "little black boy," had a quiet night, his only clear-cut chance coming on the half hour when he controlled a well-weighted ball from Andrea Pirlo on his chest but fired wide from the edge of the penalty area.

He was substituted after an hour.

Meanwhile, Argentina beat Sweden 3-2 in a friendly on Wednesday despite Lionel Messi being held scoreless, as first-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero helped decide the game early.

Argentina took an early lead on an own goal when Higuain's shot deflected off Sweden defender Mikael Lustig.

Jonas Olsson equalized for the hosts with a powerful header on Kim Kallstrom's corner kick. But Argentina replied immediately as Angel Di Maria slipped a deft pass to Aguero, who easily beat Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.

Higuain made it 3-1 in the 23rd minute, picking up the rebound when Isaksson couldn't hold Messi's shot.

Messi nearly scored with an elegant lob in the second half, but Isaksson cleared the ball with a bicycle kick over the goal line.

Rasmus Elm scored Sweden's second goal with a free kick in injury time.

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