Paris, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Germany's year just keeps getting worse.
France handed the struggling Germans a 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday, meaning Die Mannschaft has lost two straight competitive games for the first time since 2000.
It was Germany's sixth loss overall in 2018, and fourth in its last six competitive games after a group-stage exit at the World Cup.
The latest defeat, which followed a 3-0 humbling against the Netherlands on Saturday, came despite taking an early lead and dominating the first half against the World Cup champion.
Forward Antoine Griezmann helped France rally as he got the better of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer again, scoring both goals for the host at a packed Stade de France.
The result will only increase the pressure on Germany coach Joachim Loew, who guided the team to a World Cup title in 2014, along with three major tournament semifinals, last year's Confederations Cup win and one other final since 2008.
Midfielder Toni Kroos gave Germany the lead from the penalty spot after 14 minutes and the visitors had chances to go further ahead before Griezmann equalized with a superb header in the 62nd. He showed perfect timing to meet Atletico Madrid teammate Lucas Hernandez's cross from the left with a glancing header which looped over Neuer's outstretched hand.
With 10 minutes left, Griezmann coolly put France ahead with a penalty for his 26th international goal. He sent Neuer the wrong way, having also done so in the European Championship semifinals two years ago — when Griezmann also scored twice.
Deschamps acknowledged his side had been outplayed in the first half.
"We struggled to stop them, they went through us," he said. "Our positioning wasn't quite what it should have been."
But France has forwards other countries dream of, includling World Cup star Kylian Mbappe .
His pass picked out midfielder Blaise Matuidi's run and center half Mats Hummels was adjudged to have impeded Matuidi, although there was no video review available to the referee and Loew said the penalty should not have been given.
The win moved World Cup winner France top of Group 1 in the top-tier League A with seven points, while Germany is last with one point. The Netherlands can still top the group by beating France and Germany.
Germany and France drew 0-0 in their opening Nations League game.
Coach Joachim Loew tried a more adventurous formation this time, bringing in 23-year-old Serge Gnabry and 22-year-old Leroy Sane — both pacey wingers. With left back Nico Schulz also pushing up regularly, France was completely stretched in the first half.
The opening goal came after France midfielder Paul Pogba lost the ball and Sane's low cross drew a penalty when it hit the arm of defender Presnel Kimpembe — who again looked vulnerable following a poor performance in a 2-2 draw against Iceland in a friendly last Thursday.
After Kroos slotted his penalty away into the right corner, he could easily have been celebrating another goal in the 20th.
The fact he wasn't was no fault of his own.
Sane again used his pace to pull clear down the right, but fluffed an easy pass to Kroos, who was totally unmarked near the penalty spot.
Early in the second half, the 19-year-old Mbappe burst away from the sluggish Hummels, but shot instead of dribbling past Neuer and the agile goalie blocked it with his left leg.
Moments later, Schulz found Sane down the left but he skewed his shot wide — which proved the turning point as France took control.
Despite another defeat, Loew felt encouraged.
"We were absolutely on a par with the world champions," he said. "It was a very good reaction after the Netherlands game."
France plays the Netherlands in Rotterdam on Nov. 16 and the Germans host the Dutch three days later.
Jeddah, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Defender Miranda headed in a stoppage-time goal Tuesday to give Brazil a 1-0 win over archrival Argentina in a friendly in Saudi Arabia.
Miranda met a corner from Neymar in the 92nd minute and headed past goalkeeper Sergio Romero to hand Brazil a third victory in the "Superclasico de las Americas."
The match at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah featured few other chances for either team.
Argentina was without superstar Lionel Messi, and striker Paulo Dybala was ineffective up front in a match where players from both teams complained about the heat.
An emotional Miranda dedicated the goal to his wife on the 16th anniversary of their first meeting.
Brazil's next friendly will be in London against Uruguay in November as the team continues preparations for the Copa America tournament it will host next summer.
Argentina's interim coach Lionel Scaloni said the test was positive regardless of the result.
"A lot of players were in their first Superclasico, they will achieve great things," he said. "Doing what we did today we will fight a war against everyone that plays us."
Madrid, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) — It was an odd scene at Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville: The few visiting English fans were chanting "Ole" at every touch of the ball by their squad, while the home Spanish crowd was jeering its own players.
It was only halftime on Monday and the Spaniards had already seen their national team concede three goals for the first time ever in a competitive match at home. By the end, they were witnesses to La Roja's first home loss in 15 years.
Raheem Sterling scored twice and Marcus Rashford once in a stunning first half for England, which held on to beat Spain 3-2 in the UEFA Nations League to get back in contention for a spot in the final four of Europe's newest competition.
In the other match in League A, Iceland lost to Switzerland 2-1 and was relegated to the second-tier League B.
Sterling ended his three-year scoring drought with England with goals on each side of Rashford's strike before the break, leading England to its first win in Spain since 1987.
"For a young team, they put in an incredibly mature performance, withstood pressure reasonably well and should all be really proud," England coach Gareth Southgate said.
Spain suffered its first loss in a competitive match at home since 2003 against Greece. It hadn't lost at home in 38 matches, and had not conceded three goals in a home match since 1991 in a friendly against Hungary.
"It shows how tough it is to come here and win and we have done that," England forward Harry Kane said. "We came out of the blocks firing, great pressing."
Paco Alcacer scored Spain's first goal early in the second half and Sergio Ramos claimed the second on the final play of the match.
"We have to admit we played very badly in the first half," Spain coach Luis Enrique said. "We made a lot of individual mistakes."
Despite the loss, Spain stayed ahead in Group 4 of League A with two more points than England after three matches. Croatia, with a game in hand, was five points behind Spain.
Spain could have secured a spot in the last four with a win, while a draw would have ended England's chances of advancing. Only the group winner moves on.
Spain started well but its high defensive line struggled against the speed of England's young forwards. The visitors were clinical, scoring on all of their attempts on goal. Spain totaled 25 attempts and 70 percent of possession, and blew it.
England opened the scoring early in a fast breakaway. Rashford sent a nice ball into space for Sterling, who entered the area with only the goalkeeper to beat and found the top of the net with a superb finish. It was his first goal for England since 2015, and first ever away from Wembley.
"It was a beautiful feeling," Sterling said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to get in the box and score. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't, but it's my position to score goals so I need to keep that going."
Rashford added to the lead in the 30th after a perfect through ball by Kane, entering the area and finishing with a shot from near the penalty spot.
Sterling got on the board again from close range after Kane's set-up in a move which started with a nice pass by Ross Barkley over the top of the Spanish defenders.
Spain got on the board in the 58th through a header by substitute striker Alcacer, who has 10 goals in his last six games with club and country. Ramos' last-minute goal also was a header.
Iceland needed to beat Switzerland for the first time to avoid relegation but the Swiss got off to a two-goal lead and held on to victory.
Switzerland routed Iceland 6-0 at home in the team's opener. It moved into a tie with Belgium for first place in Group 2. The Belgians have a game in hand.
In League B, Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 at home to take a six-point lead over Austria atop Group 3.
In Group 2 of League C, Finland beat Greece 2-0 at home to remain perfect with four wins and a clean sheet after four matches. Estonia and Hungary drew 3-3 in the group's other match.
Luxembourg defeated San Marino 3-0 to take the lead in Group 2 of League D, ahead of Belarus, which was held by Moldova to 0-0.
Frisco, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) — With the Women's World Cup less than eight months away, U.S. national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe is dismayed by what she sees as ongoing issues of inequality in soccer.
From uncertainty about the use of video review and the amount of prize money, to scheduling other tournament finals on the same day as the championship game, equity issues are getting more attention as the World Cup looms.
From Rapinoe's standpoint, that's symptomatic of the short shrift paid to the women's game by FIFA, soccer's governing body.
"And that's not to say they (FIFA) don't do anything. They obviously do things for the women's game. But in the way that they truly care about the men's game, they don't truly care about the women's game," she said.
The United States qualified for the World Cup on Sunday night with a victory over Jamaica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF women's championship tournament. The top three finishers earn spots in the World Cup, so the U.S. and Canada secured berths with semifinal victories. The two teams will play each other in the championship match Wednesday night.
Rapinoe has always been one of the most vocal players on the team. She was among a chorus of voices that criticized FIFA in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup in Canada because the tournament was played on artificial turf, which was considered a slight to the women.
So it's understandable the 33-year-old national team vet would call out FIFA for more recent issues.
FIFA has been criticized for scheduling the Women's World Cup final on the same day as the men's Copa America final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
There have been calls for FIFA to use VAR, or Video Assistant Referees, at the tournament in France. VAR was used at the men's World Cup for the first time in Russia.
Prize money has been an issue since 2015, when the U.S. women's team received $2 million for winning the World Cup, out of a pool of $15 million. By comparison, the prize pool for the men's World Cup in Russia was $400 million.
FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman responded to some of the criticism last week when the organization released its first-ever global strategy for women's soccer. The wide-ranging policy seeks to grow the women's game overall — and one aim is to get more women involved in the decision-making processes at all levels.
"We have to keep pushing," Bareman said. "Because it's proven that having more women in these decision-making bodies creates a more diverse decision-making process, and also a more robust and I would say — how do I put this diplomatically — a more honest and integral process as well."
The strategy shows that FIFA is committed to the women's game, she said.
As for VAR, a decision has not been announced. FIFA did not announce its intention to use VAR for the men's World Cup until just a few months before the tournament.
Bareman also confirmed that World Cup prize money would be increased but did not reveal a figure. An announcement is expected later this month at the FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda. She said the prize structure would include "new elements that haven't existed before in the women's game" including money to help qualified teams prepare.
Sports Illustrated reported last week that the prize pool would be doubled, to $30 million. Rapinoe wanted to know what metric was used in determining the amount — especially in light of the disparity with the men's.
"I mean, I think that they're probably looking for pats on the back for the increase. They're not getting any from here. I mean, until they're really going to take meaningful steps to truly show that they're caring about the women's game in a sort of deeper way, I don't know. $15 million is nothing to them. ... If they wanted to just sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million," she said.
Rapinoe is not alone. Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn have also publicly addressed some of the controversies. Coach Jill Ellis first called for VAR at the Women's World Cup when she visited Russia for the men's tournament, and during qualifying she has questioned the scheduling decisions.
The U.S. team is uniquely positioned to speak to contentious issues. The players fought for and received an improved collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer in 2017 that brings player compensation more in line with the men's team.
And as the No. 1 team in the world, the players' voices carry weight.
"I think they themselves are an incredible mouthpiece for our game, for the women's game. Not just because of their popularity, but also their investment. This is a group that wants the game to grow," Ellis said. "So I think them speaking their minds, honestly, and being open about how they feel about issues — as in bonuses for winning, dates of competition, VAR, all those things that you want to be on the same level and same platform as the men's game. And that's the expectation, and anything less that that is not acceptable."
Frisco, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — The U.S. women's national team breezed through CONCACAF qualifying to secure a spot in the World Cup next year in France.
The Americans still have to face Canada.
"Just because we qualified for the World Cup doesn't mean we're going to take our foot off the gas," Alex Morgan said. "We want to win this tournament and we always think of playing Canada as an important game for us."
Morgan and Tobin Heath each scored twice in the first half and United States earned a World Cup berth with a 6-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday night in the semifinals.
Heath's first came in the first two minutes of the match and she added a second in the 29th. Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Morgan also had first-half goals as the United States built a 5-0 lead.
Morgan's second goal was a penalty kick in the 84th minute.
Canada, ranked No. 5 in the world, also clinched a spot in France with a 7-0 victory over Panama in the earlier semifinal at Toyota Stadium.
The top three finishers in the CONCACAF Women's Championship represent the region in France, so the winners of both semifinals earned a berth before the final.
The title match between the United States and Canada and the third-place game are set for Wednesday in Frisco. The fourth-place finisher will face Argentina in a playoff for a spot in France.
"This is obviously going to be a different change of pace for us in this tournament because we haven't faced a lot of shots from other teams, from opponents. But I think it will be good for us. We want to play the best teams in the world and Canada's continuing to evolve and play well," Morgan said.
The top-ranked United States is the defending champion of the sport's premier event, having won the final in the 2015 World Cup against Japan. It was the team's third World Cup title.
Jamaica, ranked No. 64th in the world, is still vying to become the first Caribbean nation to go to a World Cup. The Reggae Girlz upset Costa Rica 1-0 in the group stage before routing Cuba 9-0 to finish second to Canada in Group B.
The island nation re-started its women's national team program in 2014 after a six-year hiatus, boosted by the support of Bob Marley's oldest daughter, Cedella Marley.
Coach Hue Menzies said the match against the United States was a good test.
"We came ready to play five games, and we're playing five games. So it's a big plus for our program. Obviously we're trying to create some history. We're still on track," Menzies said.
The United States has dominated the competition in the tournament. The team averaged six goals a game in its group stage, winning all three matches. They took 114 shots, far more than the second-best team in the field, Canada (77). In their final group-stage match, the U.S. women outshot injury-depleted Trinidad and Tobago 59-0.
The United States outshot Jamaica 26-1.
"We feel good right now. Like I said, the competition has not been very good, so we have to take it with a grain of salt," Rapinoe said about where the team is at right now. "I think we're moving the ball quicker, not hanging on to it too long, sharing it, a bunch of different people are scoring. We got a lot of different kind of goals today, too. ... It's clicking right now. It's pretty good."
Morgan's goals tied her with Canada's Adriana Leon for the tournament lead with six.
Morgan has 16 goals for the United States this year, and she has 23 goals in her last 23 matches. She has 96 career goals.
Heath, who spent much of 2017 and the beginning of this year sidelined by injury, has seven goals in seven starts this year. Her second goal of the night came on a spectacular serve from Portland Thorns' teammate Lindsay Horan. On the run, Heath smashed it past Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider.
"They're at another level," Menzies said about the U.S. team. "Another level from us. It's something we can learn from. The best game that we played so far was a loss to Canada, we learned a lot from that. So we've got to take these situations and add them into training and see if we can solve those things and use them against Panama."
The match slowed down in the second half, played in a steady rain. But the thunderstorms that had been forecast never materialized.
Seventeen teams have earned trips to the World Cup. There are seven spots yet to be determined.