Varane gives France 1-0 win over Sweden in friendly

BY foxsports • November 18, 2014

MARSEILLE, France (AP) Raphael Varane fired France to a 1-0 win over Sweden in a friendly at Stade Velodrome on Tuesday.

The France captain headed home a corner from Antoine Griezmann in the 83rd minute. His Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema had an opportunity to double the lead from the spot three minutes later but fired his penalty over the bar.

France coach Didier Deschamps made eight changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Albania last week, while an uninspired Sweden side played without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was rested.

Deschamps is enjoying his best season at the helm of the France team with 10 wins, four draws and one loss on the year compared to five wins, two draws and five losses in 2013.

France next hosts Brazil in a friendly in March while Sweden visits Moldova for a Euro 2016 qualifier.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) Serbia beat Greece 2-0 in a lackluster friendly match Tuesday on goals from Radoslav Petrovic and Nemanja Gudelj as the two countries attempted to recover from humiliating home defeats in European qualifying.

Petrovic headed in a freekick from Zoran Tosic in the 60th minute as the Serbs' attention to set pieces eventually payed off at the 3,500-seat Perivolia stadium in Crete.

Gudelj caught goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos off guard, curling a long-distance shot past him in injury time.

The Greeks produced few chances though Lazaros Christodoulopoulos forced a fine save from Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic in the 50th.

National youth coaches sat in for both teams Tuesday, after Greece's disastrous 1-0 loss to the Faeroe Islands on Friday saw coach Claudio Ranieri suspended indefinitely. Dick Advocaat quit the Serbia post after losing 3-1 to Denmark.

GENOA, Italy (AP) Stefano Okaka scored on his debut to help Italy beat Albania 1-0 in a friendly match in Genoa on Tuesday.

Okaka headed home a corner seven minutes from time after Italy had missed a string of opportunities.

Sokol Cikalleshi had sent an effort crashing off the post in the first half for Albania.

The match was organized last month to aid the port city's recovery from devastating flooding.

More than half the fans were Albanian, although they sang the Italian anthem before kickoff, and also held up a banner in support of the region's inhabitants.

Three Albanian supporters ran onto the pitch, in separate incidents, with one bowing down in front of Lorik Cana and getting the Albania captain to autograph his flag.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Russia ground out a 2-1 win over Hungary in a friendly on Tuesday, a welcome result for the visitors' under-pressure coach Fabio Capello.

Center-back Sergei Ignashevich gave Russia a 49th-minute lead, heading in a corner from Alexander Samedov after the Hungary defenders failed to pick up his movement.

Alexander Kerzhakov slotted in Russia's second in the 80th minute off a through ball from Alan Dzagoev.

Hungary pulled one back six minutes later when Nemanja Nikolic found space on the edge of the box and shot past Yuri Lodygin.

Capello has come in for widespread criticism in the Russian media in the wake of the team's poor form, with one win in its last eight competitive matches.

The Italian has also gone unpaid for around six months due to financial problems at the Russian Football Union and has said he is losing patience with the situation.

Rumors Capello could be fired abated Tuesday when Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Russian media that planned ''personnel changes'' at the RFU did not include the head coach.

WROCLAW, Poland (AP) Switzerland scored early and late to draw 2-2 at Poland in an entertaining friendly match on Tuesday.

Josip Drmic put the Swiss ahead in the 3rd, running on to a pass from Xherdan Shaqiri.

Poland leveled in first-half stoppage-time from defender Artur Jedrzejczyk's header. The hosts led in the 61st when Arkadiusz Milik curled a left-footed free kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Substitute Fabian Frei scored his first international goal in the 87th minute, six minutes after Poland defender Michal Zyro was sent off for a second booking.

Drmic was denied in the 41st when his shot was blocked in a goal-mouth scramble as Switzerland had four shots in quick succession. The danger was cleared only by Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc's stunning save from Pajtim Kasami's shot.