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Int’l Friendlies: Tunisia Hold Portugal, Balotelli Scores In Italy Win, France Edge Ireland

Int’l Friendlies: Tunisia Hold Portugal, Balotelli Scores In Italy Win, France Edge Ireland

By James Agberebi:
Africa’s representative at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Tunisia, came from 2-0 down to force another World Cup bound team Portugal to a 2-2 draw in a friendly game at Estadio Axa on Monday.

Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo did not feature after helping Real Madrid win their 13th UEFA Champions League title in a 3-1 win against Liverpool in Saturday’s final.

Andre Silva and Joao Mario gave Portugal a 2-0 lead on 22 and 34th minutes, but Anice Badri pulled a goal back for Tunisia on 39 minutes.

In the 64th minute, Tunisia completed the comeback thanks to Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who made it 2-2.

France defeated Republic of Ireland 2-0 as they stepped up preparations for the World Cup in Russia.

Former Arsenal and current Chelsea striker, Olivier Giroud, scored first for France on 40 minutes before Nabil Fekir doubled their lead on 43 minutes.

Giroud’s goal against Ireland was his 31st for the 1998 World Cup winners and he thus equalled Zinedine Zidane in fourth place on the all-time top scorers list for France.

Former Manchester City and Inter Milan boss, Roberto Mancini, marked his first game as coach of Italy with a 2-1 win against Russia 2018 World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia.

Mancini’s former player at Manchester City, Mario Balotelli, put Italy 1-0 ahead before Andrea Belotti made it 2-0 on 68 minutes.

Yahya Al Shehri reduced the deficit when he scored in the 72nd minute to end the game 2-1.

The game was Balotelli’s first for Italy after a four-year absence.

In another friendly encounter, Iran who will be in Russia lost 2-1 to 10-man Turkey.

A brace from Everton’s Cenk Tosun in the sixth and 50th minutes saw Turkey go 2-0 up.

Ashkan Dejagah scored from the penalty spot on 90 minutes following a foul committed by Omer Bayram which saw him bag a straight red card.

Also South Korea gave their preparations for the World Cup a huge boost as they saw off Honduras 2-0.

Tottenham Hotspur forward Heung-Min Son opened the scoring in the 61st minute while Seon-Min Moon added the second goal on 73 minutes.

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