Swiss blank Japan in World Cup warm-up


Switzerland keeper Roman Burki grabs the ball over Japan defender Tomoaki Makino during Friday’s international friendly in Lugano, Switzerland.

Reuters LUGANO, Switzerland (Reuters) — Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic gave his morale a much-needed boost when he scored the second goal in a 2-0 warm-up win over fellow World Cup qualifier Japan on Friday.

Seferovic, battling for the role of Switzerland’s lone striker at the World Cup, came on in the second half and finished off a well-worked move in the 82nd minute for his first Switzerland goal since September.

He exchanged passes with Xherdan Shaqiri, who then crossed to the far post for Francois Moubandje to head across goal, where Seferovic turned the ball past Eiji Kawashima from close range.

The 26-year-old had a miserable season for Benfica, where he scored only four league goals and was left out of the squad altogether a number of times.

He was also booed off by Switzerland fans after missing several chances in the second leg of their qualifying playoff against Northern Ireland in November, which the Swiss won 1-0 on aggregate to qualify for Russia.

Switzerland, which faces Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia in its World Cup group, went ahead with a bizarre penalty four minutes before halftime.

Breel Embolo burst into the penalty area, then clearly trod on the foot of a Japanese player, but went tumbling over and the referee pointed to the spot.

Japan, which is grouped with Poland, Senegal and Colombia at the World Cup, slumped to a third successive defeat after also losing to Ukraine and Ghana. Next up is Paraguay in a final warm-up on Tuesday.

Lackluster win for Germany

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (Reuters) — World champion Germany failed to hit top gear in edging to a 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in a lackluster World Cup dress rehearsal on Friday, less than a week before the tournament starts.

It was their first win in six matches but the Germans, who leave for Russia in four days, rarely put their foot on the gas, seemingly fearful of any last-minute injuries, while the Saudis confirmed their good form heading into the World Cup.

“I have no concerns after this game,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “We will improve and once the tournament starts, we will be ready.

“We eased off in the second half, defensively we need to work a bit better and not leave so many open spaces. Overall we squandered too many chances and allowed far too many chances.”

With keeper Manuel Neuer starting for the second consecutive game after a nine-month injury break and Jerome Boateng also back from a muscle injury, Germany fielded as close as it could to its tournament team.

Germany quickly went ahead with Timo Werner finding the net from an assist by Marco Reus. Omar Hawsawi scored an own goal just before the break to give Germany a 2-0 lead.

The Saudis pulled a goal back when Taisir Al-Jassim scored on the rebound after Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a penalty in the 85th minute and he missed a golden opportunity to level in stoppage time.Speech

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