That’s it from me. What have we learned tonight? Largely, that they play a lot of international friendlies - especially when you’re trying to keep an eye on all of them. Should you want updates on Portugal v Cameroon, you can head to our scores service here. Or you can follow Spain 0-0 Italy here Ian McCourt. Thanks for your emails - bye!

GOAL! Australia 3-4 Ecuador

FULL TIME! France 2-0 Holland

That’s that. France with a strong victory over Holland in which the home side were much the stronger.

That’s full time: England 1-0 Denmark. There is a minute left as France lead Holland 2-0.

Jacob Steinberg has the closing minutes of England v Denmark here. While in France, Cabaye has just fizzed a free-kick past the Dutch post.


It’s still France 2-0 Holland. You can watch all the action from that match here with five minutes to go.

Wilfried Bony with that last minute equaliser for Ivory Coast!

GOAL AND FULL TIME! Belgium 2-2 Ivory Coast

A last minute equaliser! I’ll let you know who scored it in a jiffy

FULL TIME! Germany 1-0 Chile

FULL TIME! Republic of Ireland 1-2 Serbia

The first defeat of the O’Neill era - but you sense this was a match in which Martin O’Neill was examining his squad so he may not be too worried about that.

FULL TIME! Wales 3-1 Iceland

The Gareth Bales have it all their own way against Iceland. The Real Madrid man completely in charge, the rest of the team may as well have been shadows.

FULL TIME! Poland 0-1 Scotland

A fantastic result for Scotland, and an excellent winner from Scott Brown. Elsewhere Cameroon have scored one back against Portugal. It’s now 1-1 there. Lorient’s Aboubakar with the equaliser.

Serbia very much in charge in Ireland with four minutes left to play. Scotland, into extra time, are still just about clinging on - all defending manfully.

Simon McMahon, with the truth: “Can’t help but think that Scotland’s excellent victory in a meaningless friendly in Poland tonight means that we’re going to get a hiding when the real business takes place there in October. You know how these things work. Why couldn’t we have lost 3-0 tonight?”

Poland are putting pressure on Scotland, not happy that they’ve opened up a lead so late in the game. Scotland are hanging on though ...

It finished Austria 1-1 Uruguay, incidentally. It’s still Germany 1-0 Chile, France 2-0 Holland and Portugal 1-0 Cameroon.

GOAL! Belgium 2-1 Ivory Coast (Drogba)

The former Chelsea striker gets his country back into the game.

Follow live here.

Ecuador score 2 in 2 minutes, Australia have keeper sent off but still lead 3-2. It's all happening here...

— James Riach (@James_Riach) March 5, 2014

In Wales, Robson-Kanu throws the kitchen sink, the utensil draw, the dish rack and several shelves of the fridge at the ball, slamming it at goal from distance. The Iceland keeper knocks it over.

It’s over in Switzerland. Switzerland 2-2 Croatia.

Scotland captain Scott Brown scores a wonderful goal. Poland volley the ball out from defence, but only as far as Brown who rifles it straight back in and into the goal.

GOAL! Poland 0-1 Scotland

I’ll let you know some details when I have them ...

POR 1-0 CMR (21') - Cristiano Ronaldo becomes Portugal national team's all-time goalscorer (48) surpassing Pauleta (47).

— MisterChip (English) (@MisterChiping) March 5, 2014

And with that goal, Bale is subbed - no doubt to much relief in Madrid.

GOAL! Wales 3-1 Iceland (Bale)

It’s a one-man show. Gareth Bale has just run half the length of the pitch, sprinting past the Iceland left-back who shoved him off the pitch, outpaced him into the box and hit a high class shot into the bottom corner. Wow.

Portugal are 1-0 up against Cameroon. Guess who scored.

Ian McCourt is in position in front of Spain v Italy: join him here.

GOAL! Wales 2-1 Iceland

Bale whizzed down the line, fired a shot at goal only for it to be beaten back out. Vokes jumped highest to head the rebound home.


GOAL! Republic of Ireland 1-2 Serbia (Djordjevic)

A mistake from Coleman and Matic gets into the box. He cuts it back to Tadic, who miskicks and Djordjevic knocks it home.

GOAL! Belgium 2-0 Ivory Coast

Nainggolan, currently at Roma on loan from Cagliari, puts the home side 2-0 up.

GOAL! Austria 1-1 Uruguay (Pereira)

For Uruguay in Austria, Luis Suarez has just run at incredible speed through the box before lashing a shot at the keepr, who makes an excellent save. But, from the corner, and after a mad scramble in the box, Pereira scrambles the ball home from an inch out.

FULL TIME! Romania 0-0 Argentina

Well, that’s quite the result for Romania. Meanwhile, after Neymar went the full 90 minutes against South Africa, so too has Messi here. Can’t imagine Barcelona will be very pleased about that. Ukraine have beaten the USA 2-0 to further complicate a difficult political climate.

GOAL! Ireland 1-1 Serbia (McCarthy OG)

With Kolarov threatening, McCarthy gets himself in the way and manages to divert the ball into the net.

Darren Fletcher has come on at half-time for Scotland. The second half has just kicked off there, as indeed it has in Ireland 1-0 Serbia and Wales 1-1 Iceland.

Now it’s all Argentina. First Di Maria hits the side netting before Argentina attack again, whizzing the ball about in the box. Only an utterly extraordinary Tatarusanu save from a wild Lavezzi shot prevents Argentina from going ahead. Quite brilliant.

In France, Holland are under attack. Griezmann crosses well and into the area and Van der Wiel is lucky to scramble the ball away.


It’s still 0-0 in Romania, and every time I look up Argentina seems to be on the back foot and the Romanians appear to be attacking. I’ll admit that I may not always be looking up at the right time but still, this would be quite the result for Romania.

GOAL! France 2-0 Holland (Matuidi)

What a finish! France break at about 2,000mph up the right hand side in a move started by Benzema. Valbuena crossed and Matuidi - twisting backwards - half bicycle kicks into the goal.

GOAL! Switzerland 2-2 Croatia (Olic)

And now Olic gets his second in the match against Switzerland - a fine finish into the bottom corner.


Valbuena fires a free-kick at the Dutch goal after Van der Wiel had earned himself a yellow with a lunge on the edge of the box. He hits the ball straight at Cillessen, though, who saves comfortably. But you don’t need to read this, when you could watch it here.

Half time in the 7.45pm kick-offs:

Germany 1-0 Chile

Poland 0-0 Scotland

Wales 1-1 Iceland

Ireland 1-0 Serbia

Belgium 1-0 Ivory Coast


GOAL! France 1-0 Holland (Benzema)

Karim Benzema puts the French ahead on the 32nd minute. Watch the match live here.

GOAL! Ukraine 2-0 USA

Vladimir Putin is smiling. Follow along here.

This is the sort of hot action you could be watching if you were tuned into our live stream.

Ouch! Patrice Evra got studded in the face by Holland's Quincy Promes [Vine]

— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) March 5, 2014

Callum Robertson has put the England U19s 3-0 up against Turkey U19s. Elsewhere Plucky Cape Verde have secured a goalless draw against Luxembourg. Well done them.

FULL TIME! Turkey 2-1 Sweden

That’s full time in Turkey. Sweden unable to recover from conceding inside a nanosecond.

Here’s David Flynn on the Ireland match: “The pre match interview was intelligible, the players were passing, PASSING, in triangles no less, like some sort of pasty Barcelona, there was a fairly large crowd in attendance. Then Ireland go and ruin it by scoring via a long hoof forward out of defense. DAMN YOU TRAPPATTONI.”

Chelsea’s Lewis Baker, a rising star at the club, has given England u19s a 2-0 lead against Turkey U19s, having scored from the spot.

Australia are currently 2-0 up against Ecuador. Tim Cahill has scored at least one of them.

Turkey are still leading Sweden by two goals to one. That one’s into the last minute.

That’s half-time in Switzerland. The home side lead 2-1 against Croatia. In Romania, Argentina are still finding it hard to break the Romanians down. Poland v Scotland remains goalless.

GOAL! Wales 1-1 Iceland

Gareth Bale is absolutely running the show in Wales. He set up the goal, he’s whacking shots from miles out and has Iceland terrified. But … Iceland have equalised, a left foot shot takes a bad deflection of Ashley Williams goes into the goal.


Ireland are already, very identifiably, a Martin O'Neill in the way they use the ball and the intensity.

— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 5, 2014

GOAL! Switzerland 2-1 Croatia (Drmic)

Well, that didn’t last long. Drmic beat the offside trap after a route one ball and stabbed the ball home for his second international goal.

GOAL! Switzerland 1-1 Croatia (Olic)

Croatia equalise while the Swiss were mithering about a corner they didn’t believe should have been given. Olic steered the ball home from that corner, somewhat scrappily.

GOAL! Belgium 1-0 Ivory Coast (Fellaini)

Marouanne Fellaini has scored! Some hope for Manchester United fans...

While Paul Connolly has Australia v Ecuador right here.

Join Jacob Steinberg for live coverage of England v Denmark right here.

GOAL! Switzerland 1-0 Croatia (Drmic)

A cracking strike from range from Drmic, who scores his first international goal.

GOAL! Germany 1-0 Chile (Gotze)

Gotze puts the home side ahead with a smart strike.

GOAL! Wales 0-1 Iceland (Collins)

James Collins puts Wales ahead with a 13th minute strike.

The score there is Austria 1-0 Uruguay. I’m sure I mentioned that, didn’t I? Must have done. Janko scored the goal in the 14th minute, in case you were wondering.

The Austria keeper goes down in a heap as the Uruguay No7, Rodriguez, rushes through to attempt to karate kick the ball into the net. But Almer had cleared and instead got Rodriguez’s boot in his guts for his efforts.

Ivanovic, by all accounts passed back to his keeper only for Long to intercept and chip the Serbia stopper.

GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Serbia (Long)

This time Ireland lead! Shane Long scores after an Ivanovic error.

Full time in Cyprus: Cyprus 0-0 Northern Ireland (who were down to 10 men). Also: Macedonia 2-1 Latvia.

Half time scores: Romania 0-0 Argentina, Ukraine 1-0 USA.


Ireland have go a goal up inside three minutes! Or at least they think they do: but Glen Whelan is ruled offside.

GOAL! Turkey 2-1 Sweden (Adin)

It had just started going right for Sweden and then … calamity. Olcan Adin puts the home side back ahead.

Meanwhile Sergio Aguero has just dribbled though the entire Romania defence and forced a very good save from their keeper. In Switzerland, Croatia very nearly went ahead through, I think, Pranjic.

GOAL! Turkey 1-1 Sweden (Toivonen)

Sweden get one back against Turkey, after going down so early. Toivonen is the man who has put them on level terms.

The Croatia side are basically defending on their own goal-line, so deep are they having to play. Switzerland certainly the more likely to score at this point.

Look away now ...

So Messi was sick on pitch for Argentina via @Chase_Ryan who says it's coz he pushes himself/being pushed too much

— Ben Lyttleton (@benlyt) March 5, 2014

It remains Cyprus 0-0 Northern Ireland with three minutes to play. But the Nothern Irish are a man down after McAuley was sent off for hauling down Christofi.

Luis Suárez kicks off for Uruguay against Austria, but the home side immediately go on the attack and Junuzovic’s shot whistles wide. Meanwhile, Switzerland have had the best of the opening minutes against Croatia.

It’s half time in Turkey and, indeed, in the minnows match IN Luxembourg. Turkey 1-0 Sweden and Luxembourg 0-0 Plucky Cape Verde

If it’s 7.30pm, that means it’s time for ...

Austria v Uruguay

Switzerland v Croatia

While at 7.45pm, we’ve got:

Belgium v Ivory Coast

Germany v Chile

Republic of Ireland v Serbia

Poland v Scotland

Wales v Iceland

Goals latest: Gibraltar 0-1 Estonia, Andorra 0-3 Slovakia and Macedonia 1-1 Latvia.

Romania’s No9, Marica, flashes a header just over the Argentina bar: so close. Ben Bronx has filed a full match report of Greece v South Korea, including teams. This is exemplary stuff - everyone else reading take note:

The difference between the two sides was clinical finishing. South Korea took their chances whilst Greece will rue missed opportunities.

South Korea deservedly took the lead on 18 minutes when Park Chu-Young was put through on goal after an assist from Son Heung-Min.

Greece had a chance to equalise four minutes later when Konstantinos Katsouranis found himself with an open goal three yards out but could only hit the post.

The South Korean goal lived a charmed life with the woodwork twice more coming to their rescue when both Georgios Samaras and Avraam Papadopoulos hit the crossbar in the space of a few seconds on 31 minutes.

The second half brought immediate changes for Greece with Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Giorgos Karagounis replacing Dimitrios Salpingidis and Giannis Maniatis respectively. South Korea brought on Kim Shin-Wook to replace the goalscorer Park Chu-Young.

Ten minutes after the interval South Korea effectively killed off the game when Son Heung-Min scored from a tight angle with his shot hitting the underside of the bar before going in.

Greece: Panagiotis Glikos, Vasilis Torosidis (Giorgios Tzavellas – 82), Kostas Manolas, Avraam Papadopoulos, Jose Holebas, Giannis Maniatis (Giorgos Karagounis – 45), Alexandros Tziolis (Dimitrios Papadopoulos – 59), Kostas Katsouranis, Dimitris Salpigidis (Lazaros Christodoulopoulos - 45), Georgios Samaras, Kostas Mitroglou (Ioannis Fetfatzidis – 60).

South Korea: Sung-Ryong Jung, Jeong-Ho Hong, Young-Gwon Kim, Yong-Joon Lee, Jin-Su Kim, Ki Sung-Yueng (Dae-Song Ha – 86), Ja-Cheol Koo (Keun-Ho Lee – 85), Kook-Young Han, Chung-Yong Lee, Heung-Min Son (Bo-Kyung Kim – 73), Chu-Young Park (Shin-Wook Kim - 46).

FULL TIME! Czech Republic 2-2 Norway

An entertaining game comes to an end with much handshaking and hugging on the pitch. Elsewhere: it’s still Romania 0-0 Argentina with the Romanians getting the odd chance against what should be stronger opposition.

GOAL! Czech Republic 2-2 Norway (Pedersen)

Evening again. In the precise minute we were changing over there, Pedersen equalised. His goal came in the 88th minute, meaning the Czechs will have to go some to get the result they were expecting.

Tom has wolfed down his sandwich, filled up his water bottle and he is ready to get back to work. Remember, if you only follow one MBM tonight, I think this one would be worth it ... Bye!

GOAL! Israel 1-3 Slovakia (Mak)

Israel were one nil down, then two nil down, then two one down, now they are ... three one down.

GOAL! Israel 1-2 Slovakia (Buzaglo)

Israel were one nil down, then two nil down but now they are now two one down. And they have Buzaglo to thank for that. There is about 8 minutes left for them to rescue something from that game.


Your oversized comedy cheque picture of the day.

Man of the Match... Neymar.

— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) March 5, 2014

Elsewhere on the website. Jacob Steinberg is typing his way through the England v Denmark encounter. You can join him by simply clicking the hyperlink within this text.

Hi all. How you going? Ian here. Let’s kick off with some Irish based team news shall, we? It’s only a friendly, we know, but it s a very positive line-up from Mon-Keano as they usher in a new era of Irish football.

Tonight's starting XI- you heard it here first! Forde, Coleman, Keogh, Wilson, Ward, McGeady, McCarthy, Whelan,Hoolahan,McClean,Long #IrlSer

— FAI (@FAIreland) March 5, 2014


I’m going to nip off for a sandwich: but for the next 15 minutes Ian McCourt will be trying to steer this ship away from the rocks. I’ll leave you with news that it is now Bosnia 0-2 Egypt and Israel 0-2 Slovakia. While Romania v Argentina is about to get underway.

Here’s Ben Bronx, whose second half report lacks something of the completion of his first half though beggars (and we’re certainly that) can’t be choosers: “RESULT: GREECE 0-2 SOUTH KOREA: The difference between the two sides was clinical finishing. South Korea took their chances whilst Greece will rue missed opportunities.”


FULL TIME! South Africa 0-5 Brazil

The only real surprise was the fact that Brazil played the first half in gold and the second in blue, if we’re honest.

More full-times from 5pm: Hungary 1-2 Finland, Montenegro 1-0 Ghana (which is quite a result for the Montenegrins, no?).

GOAL! South Africa 0-5 Brazil (Neymar)

Hat-trick for Neymar! And the team look delighted for him, both bench and players on the pitch rushing to congratulate him. He was teed up by Jo, who headed across goal to give Neymar the tap in.

Egypt have scored in the 52nd minute in their match against Bosnia-Herzegovina. They lead 0-1.

Some full times from the 5pm kick-offs:

Albania 2-0 Malta

Greece 0-2 South Korea (awaiting match report from Ben Bronx)

Half time in the 6pm kick-offs:

Andorra 0-2 Moldova

Cyprus 0-0 Northern Ireland

Macedonia 1-0 Latvia

Colombia 1-1 Tunisia

Neymar charges forward for Brazil again, but is stopped just inside the box. He’s desperate for a hat-trick, but I wonder what Barcelona will make of him playing for the full 90 minutes here.

Finland have come back from a goal down against Hungary to lead 2-1 now. Two goals from Joel Pohjanpalo, a man with a name that is oddly satisfying to say.

“Turkey seem to have a thing for scoring fast,” emails Joshua Poindexter. “I remember in 2002 against South Korea, in the 3rd place game, Turkey scored in 11 seconds.” They did indeed - the immaculate Hakan Suker.

GOAL! South Africa 0-4 Brazil (Fernandinho)

A rocket from a mile out. What a hit - swerve, dip and unbelievable pace.

We’ve got live coverage of Ukraine v USA: you’ll find it here. Meanwhile, Tunisia have equalised against COlombia: 1-1 there.

The other 6.30pm kick-off tonight is Luxembourg v Plucky Cape Verde. Presumably, this will be one of the few times the perennial whipping boys Luxembourg face a team they are expected to whip. They may not have it all their own way.

Daniel Alves misses a good chance for Brazil v South Africa, while one-on-one with the keeper. No matter, we know which way this one’s going.

The stats don’t make good reading if you’re a Sweden fan. Turkey, in the opening 7 minutes, have had 88% of the possession, two shots and five free kicks. Still, Zlatan’s playing so anything’s possible.

Finland have equalised against Hungary: it’s 1-1 there. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic v Norway is up and running once more. Let’s hope the second half offers as much action as the first.

Mevlut Erding was the man with the one-minute goal in Turkey. So now you know.

Well, that didn’t take long. No sooner had Turkey and Sweden kicked off than there was a goal. Will bring you the scorer in a second, but Turkey are 1-0 up against Sweden.

Moldova have gone 0-2 up against Andorra, scoring two in quick succession. Macedonia are 1-0 up against Latvia. While in South Africa, Jo aims a header at goal and manages to knock it backwards, in completely the opposite direction. The Manchester City and Everton fans in the stadium all nodded knowingly.

While all that was happening, Colombia have gone a goal up against Tunisia. Monaco’s James Rodriguez seeing the ball home from the penalty spot.

Amongst a flood of substitutions in South Africa, Jo comes on for Fred, keeping the Working Man’s quotient high. A minute later, Patosi nearly scores with his first touch. He was one of the subs and smacked a powerful shot at goal, which Julio Cesar saved with admirable agility. Before the subsequent corner, David Luiz was hoiked in place of Bayern’s Dante. But the Brazilian, with characteristic WTFing, refused to come off until after the set piece was taken. Dante was not impressed.

RSA 0-3 BRA (55') - 29 goals for Neymar (in 47 games with Brazil). Overtakes Luis Fabiano and equals Kaká (87 games) and Careca (60 games)

— MisterChip (English) (@MisterChiping) March 5, 2014

The 5.30 games have all reached half time now.

Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-0 Egypt

Israel 0-1 Slovakia

Czech Republic 2-1 Norway.

Elsewhere, it’s:

Albania 2-0 Malta

Algeria 2-0 Slovenia

Greece 0-2 South Korea

Hungary 1-0 Finland

Montenegro 0-1 Ghana

South Africa 0-3 Brazil

Ben Bronx, who may as well be our man in Greece given how timely his updates are ... actually come to think of it, if his updates are timely, he’s too good to be our man in Greece. Anyway, he points out: “GOAL: Greece 0-2 South Korea. Son Heung-Min (55 mins) converts from a difficult angle with his shot hitting the underside of the bar and going in.”

Makridis nearly scores for Cyprus against Northern Ireland, with only McGiven’s quick thinking sparing some blushes. He nipped in to clear the ball off the line after Mannus was beaten.

That’s half time in the Czech Republic. The home side lead Norway 2-1 in what has been a good game full of chances - 10 shots on goal so far, and 18 chances.


Slovakia are leading Israel 1-0, and have been for a few minutes now. Amkar Jakubko of the Russian Premier League and Amkar Perm specifically, is the man to make the difference.

Five minutes into the second half, the South Africans bring on Ndlovu for Claasean. Have never really understood those kinds of changes. Why not make it at half-time? Unless, of course, Claasen has colour-blindness and is struggling with the blue kits.

In Cyprus, Northern Ireland’s Brunt lashes a shot at goal only for the Cypriot defender Merkis to make an excellent block.

South Africa are all over the place, perhaps rattled by the fact they were playing a team in gold in the first half and are now playing one in blue. Neymar breaks free and is only prevented from his hat-trick by a marginal offside call.

GOAL! Czech Republic 2-1 Norway (Vydra)

From a corner, the ball is pinballed around in the Norway box. West Brom’s Vydra is the fastest to react and stubs the ball home for a scrappy goal.

Uh-oh, this doesn’t bode well for South Africa. Willian screeches into the box and knocks the ball just wide of the post.

GOAL! South Africa 0-3 Brazil (Neymar)

Straight from the kick-off - South Africa’s kick off! The home side lose the ball immediately, Fred lifts the ball over the defence and Neymar chips the keeper. Lucky blue kit!

The Brazil squad are trotting back onto the pitch now in their blue away kit, having changed at half time in a bid to flog more of the things. It’s a Chelsea-centric set of substitutions as Ramires replaces Oscar and Willian (a letter away from being in the Working Man’s XI) comes on for Hulk.

Incidentally, the Cyprus v Northern Ireland match and the later Ukraine v USA (which is being staged on the island because of the unrest in the Ukraine) were only able to go ahead after referees called off a strike in the aftermath of their boss getting his car bombed. Yikes.

Cyprus v Northern Ireland: team news

Cyprus: Georgallides, Charis Kyriakou, Junior, Merkis, Antoniades, Nicolaou, Laban, Makrides, Christofi, Aloneftis, Mitidis.

Subs: Mastrou, Loizou, Elias Charalambous, Stylianou, Charalambos Kyriakou, Sielis, Artymatas, Charalambidis, Efrem, Alexandrou, Papathanasiou, Makris.

Northern Ireland: Mannus, Cathcart, McGivern, McAuley, Bruce, Davis, Norwood, McGinn, Brunt, Ward, Paterson.

Subs: Carroll, McGovern, Danny Lafferty, Ferguson, Kyle Lafferty, McKay, Shiels, McArdle, Paton, Reeves, McCourt.

Referee: Liran Liany (Israel)


It’s nearly 6pm (or in fact, may actually be 6pm by the time I’ve finished typing this): under starters orders ...

Andorra v Moldova

Colombia v Tunisia

Macedonia v Latvia

Cyprus v Northern Ireland

GOAL! Czech Republic 1-1 Norway (Elyounoussi)

Norway, who have been completely under the cosh somehow level. That man Elyounoussi, who missed a sitter earlier, finally comes good.

Other half-times: Hungary 1-0 Finland, Albania 1-0 Malta (Sion’s Vullnet Basha the scorer), Algeria 1-0 Slovenia (Zagreb’s Soudani troubling the net there). Montenegro 1-0 Ghana.

Dean Furman of Doncaster Rovers has the final say in the first half of South Africa v Brazil. His long-range shot wheeches low and to the right of Julio Cesar’s post. Half time: South Africa 0-2 Brazil.

Algeria have gone 1-0 up over Slovenia on the stroke of half-time. Meanwhile Ben Bronx has emailed in with what amounts to a match report of the first half of Greece 0-1 South Korea. In the spirit of open journalism, here it is:

The Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium (home of Olympiacos) is playing host to Greece v South Korea tonight. Unlike the last time these two nations met, at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Korea won 2-0, it’s not being played in front of a full-house. Infact it’s over half empty.

Park Chu-Young, making his first start in over a year for the Taeguk Warriors, deservedly gave South Korea a 1-0 lead on 18 minutes. This comes after the 28-year-old striker has admitted this could be his last opportunity to impress South Korea boss Hong Myung-Bo before the World Cup.

Greece had the chance for an almost immediate response but Kostas Katsouranis managed to miss an open goal from no more than three yards out on 22 minutes.

Half an hour on the clock and Greece hit the crossbar twice in the space of five seconds. The pressure is starting to grow on the Koreans and Greece can consider themselves unfortunate to not be level.


The Czech Republic nearly go 2-0 up, pinging the ball around the park with quick incisive passing. But Vydra, receiving the ball on or around the penalty spot, can only strike the ball just wide of the post. In Brazil, there is also half a chance, but the Czech chance was absorbing 95% of my attention I’m afraid.

GOAL! South Africa 0-2 Brazil (Neymar)

The Brazilian striker gets the ball on the shoulder of the South African defence and rampages into the box. He looks up briefly, then lashes the ball into the net.

GOAL! Czech Republic 1-0 Norway (Rosicky)

But then what a mistake! The Norway keeper Nyland rolls the ball out and it goes straight to Tomas Rosicky. He takes a couple of touches and unleashes a rocket straight back past the keeper.

In the Generali Arena, Norway miss a gilt-edged chance to go ahead. The Norway No10, Tarik Elyounoussi, drove into the box (not literally), rounded Petr Cech, stumbled then hit a tame shot wide of the empty goal while trying to find his balance. People on the bench react as if a death has occurred.


It’s finished Bulgaria 2-1 Belarus. There will be dancing on the streets Sofia - which might explain why there was no-one in the stadium, it’s very hard to navigate through the traffic of people dancing in the streets, which might explain why no-one made it to the game.

Here’s some Northern Ireland news we’ve copy and pasted from the wires:

Hull defender Alex Bruce and St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus were handed their first Northern Ireland starts in over a year for the friendly against Cyprus.

The pair last lined up in the first XI in last February’s 0-0 draw in Malta but were given another chance to impress by manager Michael O’Neill.

Returning striker Kyle Lafferty, back in the squad for the first time in six months, made do with a place on the bench as Jamie Ward and Martin Paterson got the nod up front.

“re. Park Chu-Yong,” emails James. “Should be a good sign of his stepping up to help Arsenal make a renewed push for the title... if he were still there...”

Neymar goes through, one-on-one with the keeper. The South Africa defence was all over the place and unable to catch up with the Barcelona man. He attempted to lift the ball over the keeper, who stayed admirably big and deflected the ball behind.

Back in South Africa, Brazil are still well on top and the vuvuzelas are still making the racket that we’ve all missed so much.

An appalling goal in Bulgaria. The Belarus No.7 lashed from the edge of the area and the Bulgarian keeper bellyflopped over the ball. Bulgaria 2-1 Belarus.

It’s getting on for 5.30, which means that another crop of friendlies are about to kick off: Bosnia-Herzegovina v Egypt, Czech Republic v Norway, Israel v Slovakia. In Albania, meanwhile, the home side have gone 1-0 up against Malta. Also, I have finally discovered the scorer of South Korea’s goal against Greece - it is, of course, none other than Park Chu-Young of Watford and the Arsenal.

A bit of a bobble denies Neymar a shooting chance. The ball just evaded his lashing foot and allowed the South African keeper to sprawlingly touch the ball behind. nothing doing from the corner.

“Re. Brazil’s Working Man’s Club XI,” ey-ups John Palethorpe. “As the Guardian reported today, they could soon be bolstered by the capping of Walter, who even looks like he’s spent his time sinking pints of heavy and sampling the hot pot.”

Well, that’s bad news for South Africa: their captain Bongani Khumalo - once of Tottenham Hotspur, Reading and Doncaster - has been stretchered off, squirming in pain.

The Hungarian goalscorer was Gergely Rudolf, the Nancy striker who doubles up as the sound of a reindeer with stomach issues. South Korea have just scored too, they lead Greece by a goal to nil.

Hungary have gone a goal up against Finland - 1-0 there. Meanwhile Montenegro lead Ghana 1-0. Mauritania are also beating Niger 1-0 but, if I’m dead honest, it might be a stretch covering that game.

What a pass! Hulk rattled the ball forward from the halfway line, entirely taking out the South Africa back four as he did so. Oscar’s finish was classy and stylish, while his celebration - the textbook ball up the jumper - was less so.

GOAL! South Africa 0-1 Brazil (Oscar)

The Chelsea forward strikes his ninth international pass, having been played on by an immaculate Hulk pass.

South Africa aim a long-range sighter at goal, but the ball bobbles past Julio Cesar’s right-hand post with the keeper as relaxed as any man who has spent the season as Rob Green’s No.2 might be.

Brazil have already got their swagger on and are busy passing the ball around the pitch at pace. Fred has already had one chance, made for him by Oscar (whose name is too middle class to be part of the working man’s XI). Incidentally, Vladimir Gadzhev was the Bulgarian goalscorer.

In South Africa, the vuvuzelas are swarming: no such problems with empty stadiums as they have in Bulgaria. Meanwhile Bulgaria have gone 2-0 up against Belarus - a majestic diving header into the top corner from 15 yards.


Montenegro have gone a goal up against Ghana already. Damjanovic, who plays his football in China, the man to steer the ball into the back of the net.

We’re off: The other matches kicking off at 5pm again: Albania v Malta, Algeria v Slovenia, Greece v South Korea, Hungary v Finland, Montenegro v Ghana.

Not to be outdone by South Africa, Brazil will be airing two entirely different kits in this match - their World Cup kit in the first half and their change strip in the second. And who says international friendlies have no value?

Bentaleb #THFC starts first game for Algeria in 4-3-2-1 formation v Slovenia, KO in one hour, via @BilelGhazi

— Ben Lyttleton (@benlyt) March 5, 2014

The Brazil XI to face South Africa looks like this: Julio César; Rafinha, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Fernandinho, Paulinho, Oscar; Hulk, Neymar, Fred.

Only one member of the Brazilian working man’s club XI there: disappointing absences from Wallace, Jo, Bernard, Jean and Maxwell (at a push) all propped up with pints of mild elsewhere.

The South Africa side looks like this: Williams, Matlaba, Khumalo, Nthethe, Ngcongca, Serero, Jali, Claasen, Furman, Rantie, Parker


News from South Africa: Bafana will be wearing special shirts against Brazil to honour Nelson Mandela. Each of the white shirts will feature Mandela’s prison number of 46664 to commemorate the man. Not to do the gesture down but it does slightly bring to mind this Bill Hicks skit (warning: bad words aplenty, so I’ll link to it rather than embed).

In other news, Bulgaria are beating Belarus 1-0 in the 46, 340 capacity Vasil Levski Stadium. The capacity is relevant because, by my estimation, there are around 46,000 empty seats - the various technical staff, subs and ballboys appear to be in danger of outnumbering the actual crowd. It is very much the equivalent of the sort of gig that young bands play at which their only crowd is the support band. Still, the 46,000(ish) empty seats would still not get it into the top 10 of emptiest stadiums.


Welcome to rolling coverage of, gulp, all* today’s post 5pm international friendlies - except England v Denmark and Spain v Italy, for which we’ll have dedicated minute-by-minutes. You can also watch France v Holland live (and for free) with our stream, which goes live at 8pm.

There are 35 international matches today, and the feast of football began first thing with Japan 4-2 New Zealand and continued with Russia v Armenia. Assorted Eastern Europeans and Southeast Asians and Mediterraneans have also been in action - news of which can be found here - but we’ll be picking things up from 5-ish, when the pick of the games is South Africa v Brazil.

The full 5pm kick-off list is as follows:

Albania v Malta

Algeria v Slovenia

Greece v South Korea

Hungary v Finland

Montenegro v Ghana

and South Africa v Brazil

Other matches of interest today include (but are not limited to ... hey, we’re a broad church here)

Turkey v Sweden – 6.30pm

Romania v Argentina – 7pm

Ukraine v USA – 7pm (followed by political uneasiness)

Germany v Chile – 7.45pm

France v Holland – 8pm

While, Switzerland v Croatia (7.30pm), Belgium v Ivory Coast (7.30pm), Austria v Uruguay (7.30pm) and Portugal v Cameroon (8.45pm) are all worth keeping tabs on.

And from the home nations

Cyprus v Northern Ireland – 6pm

Poland v Scotland – 7.45pm

Republic of Ireland v Serbia – 7.45pm

Wales v Iceland – 7.45pm

* Well, as many as we can keep an eye at once.


Tom Bryant

The GuardianTramp

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