Brazil led the way both chronologically and as far as Chelsea involvement was concerned. David Luiz (who played a little over an hour) and Oscar started, Willian and Ramires played the second half. Oscar got things going with a bit of a Ramires, chipping the South African goalkeeper with composed aplomb in the 10th minute before calling it a day at half time. Ramires also chipped in with a bit of a Ramires, collecting the game's one and only yellow card in the 75th minute. In between those events, Neymar scored a couple, then added a third in the 90th minute because Neymar does what Neymar wants. His hat trick was the bow on the somewhat lackluster 5-0 cake. A promising warm-up for the World Cup when you factor in that Brazil hardly got out of second gear.
England's already in mid-World Cup form, as they sidled their way to a 1-0 win over powerhouse Denmark. Wait, it's not 1992 anymore? Ex-Chelsea Daniel Sturridge - who plays amazingly in red or white, but not in blue - scored the game's only goal. Adam Lallana got the assist with a cross. Woyball! Ashley Cole - playing well enough before making way for debutant Luke Shaw at the half - and Gary Cahill started, Frank Lampard watched the whole thing from the bench. Incidentally, Cahill wasn't exactly justifying his recent praise, playing exactly as if he didn't have John Terry but had part-time right back, part-time useless spare part Chris Smalling next to him instead.
In a rather surprising effort, Egypt stunned World Cup-bound Bosnia 2-0 in Innsbruck. Poaching Egypt's second and creating Egypt's first, Mohamed Salah was the standout performer. So as Salah brings his confidence boost back to England, perhaps Bosnia can find some consolation that their biggest Group F opponents Argentina also struggled a bit, vomiting their way to 0-0 draw in Romania.
In the day's lowlight, the Petr Cech & The Czechs twice conceded leads to draw 2-2 with Norway. Morten Gamst Pedersen equalized in the 88th minute thanks to a drive that slipped through the Czech Player of the Year's fingers. Whoopsies.
Not to be outdone, Thibaut Courtois didn't exactly cover himself in glory as he first gave up the five-hole to Didier Drogba then saw a 92nd minute equalizer whistle into the bottom corner as Belgium failed to hang on to their 2-0 lead in the final fifteen minutes against Ivory Coast. True to his word, Marc Wilmots only played Eden Hazard for less than the final half hour. Romelu Lukaku made a substitute appearances as well.
Indefatigable Branislav Ivanovic played the full 90 for Serbia, as did Nemanja Matic. So thanks for that, Mr. Serbia National Football Team coach. I'm so glad you won this ever-crucial friendly against Ireland.
Christian Atsu (Ghana 0, Montenegro 1) and Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon 1, Portugal 5) both started in losing efforts, while Demba Ba played the whole match as Senegal drew 1-1 with Mali.
Cesar Azpilicueta also played a whole match while Andre Schurrle got the second 45 as Spain and Germany matched 1-0 wins over Italy and Chile, respectively. I kept looking for Azpilicueta on the left side, but he was playing this weird right back position-thing instead. Oh you crazy man, Vicente Del Bosque.
Nigeria will take on Mexico in a couple hours, so Mikel, Moses, and Omeruo may yet produce something exciting.
Almost all of our players got at least a few minutes (save for Patrick Bamford). Though it was just a penalty kick, England U19 captain Lewis Baker scored again, because Lewis Baker does what Lewis Baker wants.
Great win today against turkey won 3-0, great feeling score and captain my country! pic.twitter.com/cTipMHnnpc
— lewis baker (@lew_baker) March 5, 2014