Uruguay booked a place in the final of the China Cup with Oscar Tabarez's side enjoying a comfortable 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan thanks to Cristhian Stuani's double.

Hector Cuper's men took Australia to penalties in the last 16 of the Asian Cup earlier this year but found Uruguay a step up in class on Friday.

First-half goals from Gaston Pereiro and Stuani set up a final against Thailand on Monday, with hosts China having suffered a shock 1-0 defeat in their last four meeting, and a late Stuani strike sealed matters.

Uruguay had lost their past four friendlies but opened the scoring in the fifth minute at Guangxi Sports Center Stadium in Nanning.

Nicolas Lodeiro did brilliantly to keep the ball in on the byline and when he cut a pass back to Pereiro, he rifled a fine finish across a crowded penalty area.

And it was 2-0 to Uruguay in the 23rd minute, a series of defensive errors allowing Stuani to run through on goal and lob Sanjar Kuvvatov.

Tabarez rested starters including Diego Godin - the defender making a joint record 125th appearance - Rodrigo Bentancur and Diego Laxalt during the second half as Uzbekistan struggled to get close to Fernando Muslera's goal.

PSV midfielder Pereiro almost scored his second of the game with a venomous volley that flew past a helpless Kuvvatov but crashed against the crossbar.

And Uruguay added the third goal their dominance deserved in the closing stages as poacher Stuani turned in a low cross from Javier Rodriguez.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni said there are no more words to describe Lionel Messi as he prepares to make his international comeback.

Messi has not played for Argentina since their last-16 elimination at the 2018 World Cup, however, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will end his nine-month absence against Venezuela on Friday.

The 31-year-old superstar has enjoyed another stellar season for Barcelona, so much so that his 33rd LaLiga hat-trick against Celta Vigo last week earned a standing ovation from the opposition supporters.

And Scaloni lauded Messi as Argentina look to step up their preparations ahead of the Copa America, which gets underway in June.

"I said this before. Even he must be tired of this. There are no more adjectives to describe him," Scaloni told reporters.

"We only want all of his team-mates to know that they are great players too and it's also for them to make a step forward, not just Messi.

"The rest must make that step forward. They are great players too and we are a great team if we all play our part."

Messi will be in the starting line-up against Venezuela at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano in the Spanish capital.

Juventus star Paulo Dybala is in the squad but he will not start, though Scaloni insisted the pair can play together, despite their previous struggles.

"I've already said yes, they [Dybala and Messi] are both compatibles but we have to work it out, I'm sure we can make it within some time," Scaloni added.

"I think now is not the moment yet, it's logical, we didn't have much time to prepare so it's logical that they can be compatibles but with time I think we can make it."

The United States maintained their perfect record under head coach Gregg Berhalter with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador in an international friendly.

Gyasi Zardes made it three wins from three matches since Berhalter's appointment after breaking the deadlock nine minutes from time in Orlando.

Zardes' long-range shot deflected off a defender and looped over Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez as Berhalter became just the second USA coach after Bob Bradley in 2007 to win each of his first three games.

The USA were flawless heading into the international fixture after wins against Panama and Costa Rica and they made a bright start on Thursday.

Paul Arriola, Christian Pulisic and Zardes were in the thick of the action against Ecuador, who had a lot to thank Dominguez for during the early exchanges.

Ecuador – headlined by Manchester United veteran Antonion Valencia earning his 94th cap – slowly found their feet and started to get on the ball, though the USA should have taken the lead approaching the half-hour mark.

Some lovely interchange play between Zardes and Pulisic set up Arriola with a one-on-one chance just outside the six-yard box but Dominguez used his outstretched leg to thwart the Americans.

Berhalter's men did put the ball in the net four minutes later, however, it was ruled out of for offside, though replays showed it was a very close call on Jordan Morris.

Ecuador – who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup like the United States – managed to get in behind before half-time thanks to Beder Caicedo, whose shot flashed just over the crossbar in a timely warning for the hosts.

The South American visitors defended well and they continued to do so in the second half amid a host of substitutions for both sides, which impacted the rhythm of the match.

Ecuador – who offered little in attack – looked comfortable in defence as they match appeared to be petering out for a draw.

However, Dominguez went from hero to villain after he was caught scrambling off his line by Zardes, who secured a third successive victory and clean sheet.

 

What does it mean? Berhalter and Co. on track

This is the last break before the USA's CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign gets underway in June. There is work to do for the Americans but fans should be encouraged by a performance that was capped with a goal.

USA continue to impress

With Pulisic – who will join Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season – back in the starting line-up, there were more encouraging signs for the USA. The 20-year-old, like his team-mates, showed glimpses of their potential – especially in the first half – with plenty of pace and passing as they continue to rebuild under Berhalter.

McKennie carried off

It is not what the coaching staff and supporters wanted to see. The 20-year-old Schalke midfielder hurt his ankle and had to leave the field on a stretcher. The only blight on an otherwise positive night for the USA.

What's next?

The USA welcome Chile to Houston on Tuesday, while Ecuador are on the road against Honduras on the same day.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has confirmed that Lionel Messi will start against Venezuela on Friday, ending his nine-month absence from the national side.

Messi has not represented his country since the World Cup last-16 exit at the hands of France in Russia last June.

Following that 4-3 defeat, Messi took a self-imposed break from the international game, missing six games that have marked the beginning of Scaloni's tenure.

But he will feature from the start in Friday's friendly in Madrid as Argentina step up their preparations for the Copa America, which gets under way in less than three months.

"It's a joy that Messi comes back," Scaloni told a news conference. "Despite my youth, I have a chance to train him.

"I have to try to get the team to accompany him and make the best of it. Let's hope that with Messi's return the team is more empowered."

Although revelling in the return of Messi, Scaloni was disappointed to see Angel Di Maria withdraw from the squad due to a muscular problem.

"When a player gets hurt, it's never good, both for the coach and for the group," Scaloni added. "I would have liked to see Angel.

"Hopefully, when we have to give the list for the Copa America, all players are available."

Argentina will be strong favourites to overcome Venezuela at the Wanda Metropolitano, especially with Messi restored to the line-up, but Scaloni is taking nothing for granted.

"They're a team on the rise. They play pretty direct football," he said. "Venezuela is a very difficult rival. It's a good test for what's coming.

"Tomorrow we will try to do our best. We'll attack and when we do not have the ball, defend as best as possible."

China suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Thailand on Thursday in Fabio Cannavaro's first match in charge.

Ranked 43 places below their opponents in FIFA's standings, Thailand secured victory in their opening China Cup match thanks to a 33rd-minute goal from Chanathip Songkrasin.

The result prompted an angry backlash from China fans, with Cannavaro's appointment last week having already caused controversy.

The World Cup-winning former Italy star, who has been head coach of Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande since 2017, was named as Marcello Lippi's replacement for the China Cup tournament.

Speaking last week, the 45-year-old insisted: "These two matches will not decide whether I will continue to act as the head coach of China.

"I am here not to be assessed. I have nothing to show now as I can change nothing during four or five days with the national team.

"Some people said I am too young and lack experience, but I had a career as an Italian national player for 15 years, I played six finals with Italy and won four of them.

"I know far more about major international tournaments than those who have criticised me." 

Richarlison admitted Neymar will be missed by Brazil but the forward is confident he can help fill the void left by the star captain.

Neymar will miss Saturday's international friendly against Panama and the Czech Republic fixture three days later as he recovers from a metatarsal injury suffered with Paris Saint-Germain in January.

Richarlison knows how important Neymar is to the South American giants, however, the Everton star believes his team-mates can cope.

"I think Neymar is really missed," Richarlison told reporters. "He is a great player.

"But I'm prepared. Everyone here knows the responsibility. I think if I go to play, I'll do my best so the national team can win the matches.

"Of course, Neymar makes difficult games easy. I guess we'll miss him. But let's fill his absence very well here."

Richarlison, who scored the winner in his previous international appearance against Cameroon in November, added: "Since when I came for the first time, I came with the intention of being a top scorer and making goals in all matches.

"I'm a guy who always seeks the goal. And I was summoned just because I was scoring many goals for my club. I want to continue to score goals. I want to be a top scorer with my national team."

Veteran Brazil defender Miranda, 34, is set to be involved against Panama in Porto, Portugal.

Miranda has struggled for game time at Serie A side Inter in Milan, where Luciano Spalletti has preferred Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij this season.

The former Atletico Madrid centre-back is not getting any younger but he is not thinking about retirement just yet, with Brazil set to host this year's Copa America.

"I do not think about my farewell yet. I think about my moment and as long as I am able to play at a high level, I will act," Miranda said.

"If I say goodbye in a status to play at a high level, I'll be a coward. My thinking is to help while I can. It's a long way until the next World Cup [Qatar 2022], there is a whole eliminatory after the Copa America, we know the difficulty and I cannot leave the national team now. I'll try to help while I'm in the right conditions."

Eintracht Frankfurt star Luka Jovic has the potential to play for LaLiga champions Barcelona, according to Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic.

Barca have been linked with Bundesliga sensation Jovic, who has scored 15 league goals and 23 in all competitions for club and country this season.

Jovic netted his first international goal for Serbia, who drew 1-1 against Germany in Wolfsburg on Wednesday, and Krstajic praised the 21-year-old forward.

"I'm not his agent so I do not know that," Krstajic replied when asked about Barca's reported interest.

"But he certainly has the potential to play at such a club [Barcelona]."

Jovic opened the scoring in the international friendly, with the rumoured Manchester City and Chelsea target heading home from close range before half-time.

Germany substitute Leon Goretzka salvaged a draw with 21 minutes remaining as Serbia ended the match down to 10 men following Milan Pavkov's stoppage-time red card.

Krstajic, whose Serbia will face Portugal in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday, added: "Luka Jovic played really well today. He showed his potential. As for the game against Portugal, we still have to see.

"It does not matter if [Aleksandar] Mitrovic plays or not. Maybe we'll play there with two strikers.

"Portugal are the favourite in our group, but we are not scared of any opponents."

Joachim Low has hinted Manuel Neuer will remain his first-choice goalkeeper at the start of Germany's Euro 2020 qualification campaign ahead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Neuer started against Serbia in Wednesday's 1-1 friendly draw, suggesting the Bayern Munich goalkeeper is still in front of his rival for the role.

Barcelona's Ter Stegen replaced Neuer at half-time but had very little to do, Germany improving in the second half as they fought back to avoid defeat on home soil.

Germany's qualifying campaign begins on Sunday with a trip to face Netherlands, and Neuer looks set to keep his place in Low's XI.

"You can assume that," Low told reporters when asked if Neuer's selection on Wednesday was an indication of him also doing so on Sunday.

"At the end of last week or in the past, I've already said that Marc-Andre will definitely have some chances. That's my plan.

"Now we have just made one game, in this one he has played a half. That was our decision, that Manuel plays as captain in the first half.

"In the second half then Marc-Andre played, but we still have some games during the year and he will certainly get his opportunity."

Germany head coach Joachim Low said Leroy Sane escaped injury after a dangerous tackle from Serbia striker Milan Pavkov.

Manchester City's Sane hobbled off in worrying scenes as Germany salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to Serbia in an international friendly on Wednesday.

Sane, who starred with 15 touches in the opposition box – the same amount as the entire Serbia side, was substituted in stoppage time following a crude challenge from Pavkov, who was shown a red card.

Low, however, allayed injury concerns ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier away to Netherlands in Amsterdam.

"It was a very, very bad foul for such a test match, in the midfield," Low told reporters. "The opposing coach has also apologised to me that such a thing happened.

"Thank goodness in this situation, nothing happened to Leroy, even though he hit him right on his foot. In such a situation, a player can also break his foot.

"Nothing happened to him, he had some cramps before. That's why he was replaced. But he carries no injury from this foul."

On the tackle, Sane added: "The foul looked worse than it was, everything is fine with my ankle.

"I'm very happy, we had a few good moves. We had good phases where the final pass was lacking, but I think that will come with time. Everyone could see that we got better and better."

Germany trailed at half-time following Luka Jovic's opener, with the Serbia and Eintracht Frankfurt star heading home from close range for his maiden international goal.

Low's side, however, responded in the second half and secured a draw in Wolfsburg via substitute Leon Goretzka in the 69th minute.

"In the first half the automation in this new team, playing together for the first time, did not function that well," Low said.

"In the second half the team sent a very good signal that we can increase pressure and we can increase the tempo. We had a lot of chances and we missed the final touch a bit. That is also part of the learning experience. Overall, I am very satisfied with the mentality, the pressure we created."

Ryan Giggs is hopeful his decision to rest key players will pay off when Wales face Slovakia in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen were among the established names rested by Giggs on Wednesday, as Ben Woodburn's late effort secured a 1-0 friendly win over Trinidad and Tobago.

Wales toiled for much of the encounter, though manager Giggs was pleased with the patience his side showed in finding the breakthrough midweek.

And Giggs is confident he made the right call in giving his star names some rest ahead of Sunday's Group E meeting in Cardiff.

"We've got players minutes who needed it, a lot of lads who weren't even on the bench are fresh," Giggs said.

"Slovakia are playing on Thursday, and it's not a given but we wanted to use that advantage. Going into the game fresh, with a win, there's a lot to be pleased about.

"I thought there was some really good stuff. We've only had a few days to work on stuff and some of it paid off.

"Second half I think the lads tired, which you can understand, and credit to Trinidad and Tobago they just sat in their shape and waited to counter-attack.

"But we kept going and got our reward in the end. We had our luck a little bit with Gunter clearing it off the line but I told the lads if we kept a clean sheet we'd always have a chance."

"Everyone's fine," Giggs added when asked for an injury update. 

"We've just got to monitor Aaron [Ramsey]. Everyone's come to the camp with different levels of fitness, some have played a lot of games, Gareth's just played a 90 minutes, a lot of players needed minutes. We'll have a recovery day on Thursday and then go again Friday."

Leon Goretzka spared Germany's blushes as Joachim Low's men salvaged a 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday, their first game of a so-called new era without Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller.

Low shocked German football earlier this month when announcing the World Cup-winning trio were no longer in his plans, and while Goretzka’s goal avoided defeat in Wolfsburg, the defensive performance suggested Hummels and Boateng could still be of use.

Germany's new-look back four held firm for just 12 minutes, as Barcelona-linked Luka Jovic nodded in from close range, with Serbia looking the more threatening for the majority of the first half.

The hosts coped better with Serbia's ability on the break in the final 30 minutes and were deserving of their equaliser courtesy of Goretzka, though they were unable to find a winner despite the late dismissal of Milan Pavkov.

Germany started brightly and controlled the early proceedings only for Serbia to find the net with the first attempt on target – Jovic expertly steering a header beyond Manuel Neuer after a corner fortunately deflected to the in-form Eintracht Frankfurt striker.

Serbia had a narrow escape at the other end eight minute before half-time, goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic somehow blocking Timo Werner's goal-bound effort from point-blank range.

The visitors finished the first half on top, however, with a brilliant counter seeing Darko Lazovic square to the unmarked Adem Ljajic, who carelessly shot over with just Neuer to beat.

Serbia threatened again soon after the break when Lazovic horribly sliced a shot over from the edge of the box.

That miss was punished 21 minute from the end, Goretzka taking up possession inside the area, dodging one defender and firing a shot past Dmitrovic.

Serbia saw substitute Pavkov shown a red card for a studs-up challenge on Leroy Sane, albeit Germany did not have enough time left to take advantage of the extra man.

Wales got their 2019 off to a winning start as Ben Woodburn's stoppage-time goal claimed an unconvincing 1-0 friendly victory over Trinidad and Tobago at the Racecourse Ground.

Ryan Giggs made nine changes from the XI that started the 1-0 defeat to Albania in November, with star duo Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey also left out.

And though their absence was felt as Wales' inexperienced line-up toiled for much of Wednesday's clash in Wrexham, Liverpool forward Woodburn was on hand to bundle home in the 92nd minute.

Things could have been different if not for Chris Gunter's goal-line block at the other end, but Wales will be buoyed ahead of their opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia.

Germany fans thanked Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng prior to Wednesday’s friendly against Serbia after Joachim Low said they were no longer in his plans.

Head coach Low shocked German football earlier this month when he announced the three Bayern Munich players were to step aside at international level.

The experienced trio all played an important role in Germany's 2014 World Cup triumph, but following an embarrassing title defence in Russia last year that saw them dumped out in the group stage, followed by a dismal Nations League campaign, Low opted to make radical changes.

Many have come out in support of the ostracised trio, criticising Low for publicly ending their careers for the national team instead of just dropping them, while the players themselves have voiced their displeasure.

Germany’s supporters showed their gratitude at the Volkswagen Arena, creating a display before kick-off that said "thank you" and included the respective squad numbers for Hummels, Muller and Boateng underneath.

RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann will make his international debut in a new-look Germany team against Serbia on Wednesday, while Manuel Neuer is preferred to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Head coach Joachim Low shocked German football earlier this month when he announced Bayern Munich stars Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were no long in consideration for international selection.

The experienced trio all played an important role in Germany's 2014 World Cup triumph, but following an embarrassing title defence in Russia last year which saw them dumped out in the group stage and a dismal Nations League campaign, Low has opted to make changes.

Many have come out in support of the ostracised trio, criticising Low for publicly ending their international careers instead of just dropping them.

Bayern goalkeeper Neuer is one of the few experienced campaigners remaining in the squad and Low's show of faith also extends to keeping him in the starting XI, despite pressure to play Barcelona's Ter Stegen.

But the decision to ditch the World Cup-winning trio has given others the opportunity to impress, with right-back Klostermann earning his first cap.

His Leipzig team-mate Marcel Halstenberg lines up on the other side of defence at left-back, while Jonathan Tah and Niklas Sule are the ones to benefit from the absences of Hummels and Boateng.

Julian Brandt, Leroy Sane and Kai Havertz will support Timo Werner in attack, but Toni Kroos and Marco Reus have been left out of the starting XI, with Germany due to face Netherlands in their first Euro 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

Eintracht Frankfurt star Luka Jovic leads the line for visitors Serbia in Wolfsburg.

Cesar Luis Menotti would be "afraid" if Lionel Messi was to feature for Argentina against Venezuela in a friendly on Friday.

Messi, 31, is set to make his international return after missing his nation's matches since last year's World Cup in Russia.

The superstar has been in fine form, scoring six goals in his past three matches for Barcelona, including netting a hat-trick against Real Betis.

But Menotti, who coached Argentina to World Cup success in 1978 and is now the country's director of national teams, is worried about Messi's wellbeing.

"I'm afraid that Messi plays," he told FM 94.7.

"I see him with important emotional fatigue between the Champions League and the national team. I see him very tired.

"If he wants to play with Argentina, better."

Argentina will face Venezuela on Friday before taking on Morocco four days later.

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