LARNACA, Cyprus — Ukraine’s national football team gave its troubled country something to cheer about on Wednesday when it beat the United States 2-0 in an international friendly.
The match had been overshadowed by the turmoil in Ukraine and its players said before the game that they were dedicating it to their people back home. The friendly was shifted from Kharkiv to Cyprus because of the political protests that have followed Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
Andriy Yarmolenko scored in the 12th minute and Marco Devic in the 68th as Ukraine exposed the shaky American central defense of Oguchi Onyewu and Anthony Brooks.
Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said the troubles at home were on his players’ minds but he was satisfied with the result.
“Of course we do it for our supporters, for our country,” Fomenko said. “I asked (the players) to make our people happy, we had to show that we’re all united.”
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said his team’s thoughts go out to the Ukrainian people.
“This whole build-up you feel for that country, you feel for that nation and there’s nothing more than wishing them well and to solve these issues peacefully, this is certainly what we wish them, what we pray for them,” Klinsmann said.
Before kickoff, Ukraine players linked arms on shoulders during their national anthem and both teams bowed their heads for a moment’s silence for victims of the violence in Ukraine. A banner in the stands read “Ukraine is Undivided!” on the top and “One Country — One Team!” on the bottom.
The crowd of 1,573 at Papadopoulos Stadium, which has a capacity of about 10,000, was so small that players could be heard talking with each other during the game. Ukrainian fans sang their nation’s anthem in the final moments.
“Our country is facing difficult times now, we must support our team and our country,” said Oleg Ivanovskyi a fan from Kiev currently residing in Larnaca. “Ukraine lives and will live. This friendly match is important for us to show the friendship between the U.S. and Ukraine. The friendship between the two countries is more important than the score.”
After the match, some Ukrainian fans broke into a chant of “No war in Ukraine!”
The opening goal came in the 12th minute when Andriy Yarmolenko pounced on the rebound after an initial shot by Denys Garmash was parried by goalkeeper Tim Howard.
A speedy run down the middle by substitute Marko Devic in the 68th caught the U.S. defense flatfooted and the Rubin Kazan forward scored at the second attempt when Howard again blocked the initial shot.
“It’s understandable that collectively, it’s not clicking, it would be half a miracle if we would click,” Klinsmann said of a defense that was playing together for the first time. “It was difficult for a lot of players to get into a rhythm.”
Germany 1, Chile 0
STUTTGART, Germany — Mario Goetze scored but Germany failed to impress in its win over Chile.
Goetze struck against the run of play in the 16th minute after Mesut Ozil eluded three defenders on the edge of the area. Goetze took the Arsenal midfielder’s pass with his right foot and then scooped it over Chile goalkeeper Johnny Herrera with his left.
Germany is in the United States’ group in the first round of the World Cup.
Portugal 5, Cameroon 1
LEIRIA, Portugal — Cristiano Ronaldo became Portugal’s all-time leading scorer, netting twice as Portugal thrashed Cameroon.
Ronaldo clinched his place in the record book with goals in the 21st and 83rd minutes, taking his international tally to 49. The 2013 FIFA world player of the year overtook Pauleta, who retired in 2006 after scoring 47 goals in 88 games. Ronaldo was making his 110th appearance.
Portugal is in the United States’ group in the first round of the World Cup.
Ghana, the fourth team in the U.S. group, lost 1-0 to Montenegro.
Brazil 5, South Africa 0
JOHANNESBURG — Brazil showed its national team is in better shape than the country’s stadiums with a thrashing of South Africa.
With just 99 days before the tournament kicks off, four World Cup stadiums are still under construction in Brazil.
In Johannesburg, the five-time world champions were ruthless at Soccer City as Barcelona striker Neymar claimed his second career hat trick for the Selecao.
Spain 1, Italy 0
MADRID — Pedro Rodriguez stole the spotlight from debutant Diego Costa by scoring defending World Cup champion Spain’s second-half winner in a rematch of the 2012 European Championship final.
David Silva’s second-half introduction opened up Spain’s attack and the Manchester City midfielder was involved in the move that finished with Pedro squeezing a hard shot under goalkeeper Gianlugi Buffon in the 63rd minute.
England 1, Denmark 0
LONDON — Daniel Sturridge’s late header gave England the victory over Denmark on a largely ineffective night for the World Cup-bound team in its final friendly before the squad is named.
The Liverpool striker netted his 20th goal in 28 games for club and country this season when he met Adam Lallana’s cross at the far post in the 82nd minute.
U.S. 1, Japan 1
PARCHAL, Portugal — Aya Miyama scored from a 35-yard free kick in the 83rd minute to give Japan a draw with defending champion the United States in their opening match of the Algarve Cup women’s tournament.
Sydney Leroux scored in the 59th minute for the U.S., which extended its unbeaten streak to 43 games since a March 2012 loss to Japan at the Algarve Cup.
By wire sources