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Ukraine claims USA scalp, Kosovo held

updated 6:39 PM EST, Wed March 5, 2014
Ukraine and USA players pause for a minute's silence ahead of their friendly game in Larnaca, Cyprus. The contest, which was supposed to take place in Kharkiv, was moved following the outbreak of violence in Ukraine. Ukraine and USA players pause for a minute's silence ahead of their friendly game in Larnaca, Cyprus. The contest, which was supposed to take place in Kharkiv, was moved following the outbreak of violence in Ukraine.
HIDE CAPTION
Quiet reflection
Ukraine ease home
Kosovo quest
So near, so far
Hat-trick hero
Messi kept quiet
Gotze gets it
Belgium held
Record breaker
Brilliant Benzema
England edge through
Pedro pops up
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ukraine defeats USA in Cyprus
  • Kosovo held to goalless draw in its first FIFA sanctioned friendly
  • France defeats Netherlands, Spain sees of Italy
  • Brazil cruises to victory in South Africa, England beats Denmark

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(CNN) -- As the Ukraine players stood silent on the football field in Larnaca, Cyprus, they could be forgiven for allowing their minds to wander.

This game, a friendly against the USA, was hardly significant given the scale of events which have taken place in Ukraine over the past fortnight.

The contest, which was supposed to be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine, was moved to Cyprus where less than 2,000 people came to witness two teams go through the motions.

It was not just the Ukraine players who may have been preoccupied, the performance of weakened USA side also raised questions over whether its squad had been affected by the late upheaval of switching the game.

Some Ukrainian fans came with banners to support their country, while others appeared glad to have something to take their minds off what was happening at home.

A 2-0 win thanks to goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Devic may not register on the national consciousness at this moment in time -- but it gave them a brief respite from the trouble their country has endured.

History makers

Elsehwere, football history was being made as Kosovo made its long-awaited debut in international football.

There were no national anthems -- there were no flags, and in the end, there were no goals.

But that did not detract from an emotional evening in Mitrovica where Kosovo played its first ever FIFA sanctioned friendly.

A goalless draw against Haiti in front of 17,000 people, came six years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

"Bearing in mind our lack of preparation, the very difficult terrain ... and knowing the importance of this game we all have to be happy as we are all winners," Kosovo coach Albert Bunjaki told reporters.

"I am very happy with what I saw in this game. This is our first step in a very long journey ahead ... where our objective is (qualifying for the) World Cup.

"We have shown that we deserve to be part of world football."

Kosovo, which does not have a seat at the United Nations, is not a member of FIFA nor UEFA.

It was only after negotiations with the Serbian Football Association that FIFA declared in January that Kosovo could partake in friendly games as long as it did not display any national symbols, sing its national anthem or have its flag raised.

Mitrovica, which is home to some 5,000 soldiers in the NATO peace-keeping force, endured a 78-day barrage of air strikes between 1998-99.

Record breaker

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal thrashed Cameroon 5-1.

Ronaldo scored his 48th and 49th goal for his country to become Portugal's all-time leading goalscorer.

Meanwhile, France overcame Netherlands 2-0 in Paris thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Blaise Matuidi, while Daniel Sturridge's late winner gave England a 1-0 victory against Denmark.

Germany was made to fight all the way and was jeered from the pitch by supporters despite its 1-0 win over Chile.

Mario Gotze scored the only goal of the game with the visitors hitting the crossbar and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer making some impressive saves.

"That was a lucky win. I can understand the jeers and whistles," Germany captain Philipp Lahm told reporters.

"People pay good money to watch us and it's clear that we have a lot of work to do before the World Cup. But we always prepare well for a World Cup, so I am not worried."

World champion Spain defeated Italy 1-0 in Madrid courtesy of Pedro's strike.

Brazil-born Diego Costa made his debut for Spain but failed to shine.

Tim Cahill became Australia's all-time leading goalscorer after netting twice during his side's remarkable 4-3 defeat by Ecuador.

Australia had cruised into a 3-0 lead before Ecuador launched a stunning second half fightback.

Cahill, who now has 31 goals, leapfrogged former record holder Damian Mori.

Elsewhere, Belgium was held to a 2-2 draw by Ivory Coast, Turkey defeated Sweden 2-1 and Russia overcame Armenia 2-0.

Brazil

Neymar scored a stunning hat-trick as Brazil cruised to a 5-0 win over South Africa at Soccer City in Soweto.

In the final warm-up game before its World Cup squad is announced, Brazil, which had won all four of its previous encounters against South Africa by a one-goal margin, was in prolific form.

After Oscar had given Brazil a 10th minute lead, Neymar added two of his own before Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho struck a 30-yard screamer into the top corner.

Neymar scored his third and Brazil's fifth in stoppage time from close range.

Argentina

Lionel Messi vomited on the playing field during Argentina's goalless draw with Romania in Bucharest.

The Barcelona forward was sick after seven minutes of the contest and looked out of sorts for the rest of the evening.

Elsewhere, Colombia without injured talisman Radamel Falcao, was held to a 1-1 draw by Tunisia in Barcelona.

Uruguay had to come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw in Austria.

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