Substitute Jermain Defoe scored two second half goals as England came from two down to draw 2-2 against the Netherlands in a friendly international on Wednesday.
Sorry first half defending left Fabio Capello’s men facing defeat in the Amsterdam arena, but by the finish they were pushing for victory after an impressive comeback. The Dutch were the first team from Europe to qualify for the World Cup finals and showed their quality in the early exchanges as the visitors struggled to settle. But their opener in the 10th minute was gifted by slack defending by England as Dirk Kuyt cut out Rio Ferdinand’s weak pass and rounded goalkeeper Robert Green before sending a right foot shot past captain John Terry on the line. Frank Lampard had two chances to level for England, but they fell further behind in the 38th minute as Gareth Barry sent back a wayward pass which was intercepted by Arjen Robben. The Real Madrid forward saw his shot saved by Green, but Rafael van der Vaart was on hand to score the second. Capello made four changes for the second half and Tottenham striker Defoe made an immediate impression as he latched on to Lampard’s through ball to fire home in fine style.
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With other substitutes Carlton Cole and James Milner also impressing, England were on top and it came as no surprise when Villa’s Milner played in Defoe for a 76th minute equalizer. World champions Italy continued their goalless run with a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in their friendly in Basel. It was the third successive match in which the Italians had failed to score after their below-par displays in the Confederations Cup. Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro broke Paolo Maldini’s record for international appearances as he earned his 127th cap in the draw. In Moscow, Diego Maradona’ s Argentina scored a morale-boosting 3-2 win over Russia, despite missing the injured Lionel Messi. Argentina have slipped to fourth in the South American World Cup qualifying group and fell behind early to a goal by Igor Semshov in the 17th minute. Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero equalized in the final minute of the first half with a powerful shot. In the first minute of the second half Lisandro Lopez gave Argentina a 2-1 lead, with Jesus Datolo adding a third just before the hour mark. Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko cut the deficit to 3-2 with a deflected free kick in the 78th, but Maradona’s team hung on for victory.