PARIS, France, March 26 – Denmark’s Christian Eriksen made an emotional return to international football on Saturday as England, Germany and Spain secured friendly victories.
Eriksen found the net two minutes after launching a powerful drive in a 4-2 loss to fellow World Cup qualifiers the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
It was his first national team appearance since suffering a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s European Championship opener against Finland in Copenhagen last June.
On Saturday, to resounding applause from fans and even Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, the 30-year-old came off the bench and threw his hands up in thanks.
His goal was the 37th in 110 appearances. He was fitting to score at the Amsterdam Arena, home of Ajax.
Eriksen rose through the ranks for the Dutch side, making 162 appearances for the club and winning five trophies, including three consecutive league titles between 2011 and 2013.
Meanwhile, Harry Kane converted a late penalty to close in on England’s all-time goalscoring record and secure a 2-1 victory against Switzerland who will also be at the World Cup in Qatar in November.
Kane scored from the spot to reach 49 England goals, putting him ahead of Gary Lineker and second to Bobby Charlton.
Only Wayne Rooney, with 53 goals, has scored more times for England.
Breel Embolo put Switzerland ahead at Wembley after 22 minutes in a visitors-dominated first half before Luke Shaw equalized in added time.
Kane restored order with their winner in the 78th minute.
“You have to be ready for any chance at any time. Penalties are a great way to get on the score sheet, I practice and work on them a lot,” Kane said.
– ‘Amazing company’ –
“It’s an amazing company to be with, super proud to do this but we’re looking forward to the next one. A big year ahead to get more caps and more goals.
Chelsea pair Kai Havertz and Timo Werner both hit the net as Germany beat Israel 2-0 at Sinsheim.
After the Premier League pair scored in the first half, Germany substitute captain Thomas Mueller and Israeli sub Yonatan Cohen failed to convert late penalty attempts.
Germany head coach Hansi Flick has now won his first eight internationals to extend his starting record.
“Overall it was a good performance from us for the first game of the new year,” Werner told broadcaster ZDF.
2010 World Cup winners Spain had to work hard to earn a 2-1 victory over Albania in Barcelona, the team’s first game in Catalonia since 2004.
Ferran Torres opened the scoring for Spain in the 75th minute at Espanyol’s RCDE Stadium, with Myrto Uzuni equalizing 10 minutes later.
However, Dani Olmo saved Spain’s blushes with a last-minute winner as Spain secured an eighth victory in eight matches against Albania.
“We knew it was going to be difficult. Albania are a team that defends very well,” Olmo told Spanish public television.
Top-seeded Belgium led twice in Dublin but were still held 2-2 by Ireland.
– Belgium held on –
Playing without the influential Kevin de Bruyne, who rested for the international window, Belgium took the lead after 12 minutes through Michy Batshuayi who brushed past Seamus Coleman to beat Caoimhin Kelleher in the Irish goal.
Ireland, who missed out on qualifying for the World Cup after finishing third in their group behind Serbia and Portugal, equalized in the 36th minute through Chiedozie Ogbene.
Belgium are back in front just before the hour mark thanks to a header from Hans Vanaken.
However, substitute Alan Browne grabbed his side’s second equalizer with a powerful header in the 86th minute.
In Doha, 2018 world runners-up Croatia were held to a 1-1 draw by Slovenia.
Andrej Kramaric, who plays in Germany with Hoffenheim, put Croatia ahead in the 39th minute but Jaka Bijol equalized in stoppage time for Slovenia.