Louis van Gaal has spoken out for the first time against the World Cup in Qatar in his position as Netherlands coach.

The former Ajax and Manchester United manager is known for speaking his mind, and made clear the strength of his feelings about this year's prestigious competition.

During a news conference on Monday ahead of a friendly against Denmark, the 70-year-old called it "ridiculous" that the tournament will be held in Qatar in November.

"I am a member of a committee with [KNVB Secretary-General] Gijs de Jong. We meet and then I hear what has been agreed with other countries," he said. "Then I hear what we can do and I give my comments.

"I'm on it every month. I have already mentioned it in previous press conferences. I think it's ridiculous that the World Cup is there."

While Van Gaal's position on the World Cup in Qatar has been publicly known, he has not spoken on it since taking over as the Dutch national team coach last August.

"We are playing in a country that FIFA says they want to develop football there," he added. "That's bulls..t, but it doesn't matter. It's about money, about commercial interests. That matters in FIFA.

"Why do you think I'm not on a committee at FIFA or UEFA with my expertise? Because I have always opposed these kinds of organisations. I can say that in Qatar later but that won't help the world get rid of this problem."

The Oranje face Denmark in Amsterdam on Saturday, before also hosting Germany on Tuesday.

France head coach Didier Deschamps is focused on the present and not concerned by the future after calling up Olivier Giroud to replace Karim Benzema.

Giroud has not featured for Les Blues since their exit to Switzerland at Euro 2020 last June, but the 35-year-old has come back into contention after an injury to Benzema.

The Milan striker sits just five goals behind Thierry Henry in France's all-time scoring charts after netting 46 times in 110 games.

Though Giroud was omitted from Deschamps' recent squads, he now has a chance to impress in friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa.

Deschamps, speaking at Monday's news conference, was keen to turn the attention away from Giroud as he insisted the former Arsenal and Chelsea forward does not have to prove himself.

"The most important thing for me is to be consistent and fair in my speech with the players, whether it's Olivier or others," he told reporters.

"Olivier is going to join us, and he doesn't have to do more or less. He was part of this team that was successful, it was also without him, and he remains selectable, as I have always said. 

"But don't ask me about the future. Of course, his presence is linked to Karim's injury. But there is no particular attention around him, he is part of the group."

Asked whether Benzema and Giroud could feature together down the line, Deschamps added: "It's not a question of relationships, there's competition, too, but it goes further than that. 

"History shows it is always a great difficulty for a player who has a status that he deserved to have, to no longer have this status. 

"It is very difficult to live with, not to say impossible. But it's human and it's not specific to Olivier. It's more complex. I did not call him to tell him that he will have 30 per cent playing time and see how he reacts. 

"He can accept anything, it's only ten days, but again, I don't want to make a case apart, and there have been quite a few in this case. 

"A player who has status needs to have an important role. I am convinced of that."

Arsenal's William Saliba, who is currently on loan at Marseille, has also been handed a late call-up after Bayern Munich's Benjamin Pavard withdrew.

"We have been following him for a while, I talk a lot with Sylvain Ripoll [France's Under-21 coach], who has known since the weekend, just in case," Deschamps said of Saliba. 

"The schedule meant that William was playing last night [Sunday], so I waited until after the match to make his call-up official, but what he does in the Under-23s and for his club, in a system that is not identical but similar, is interesting. 

"He is a good defender, fast, who has a good heading game, and exudes a lot of calmness in his play."

Deschamps stressed that France's upcoming friendlies are important, while he was glad to not be in the position of Portugal and Italy, who will battle for World Cup qualification in the play-offs.

"I know that many players have had very important matches before and will have very important ones after," he added. "It will be full in Marseille, full in Lille, and it is our duty to be efficient. 

"You think that these two friendlies have little value, but I know very well that we have to win them, because otherwise, they will increase in importance. 

"And I prefer to be in my place than in the place of my Italian and Portuguese counterparts. I am happy to be among the 14 nations that have already qualified [for Qatar]!"

England intend to use the World Cup in Qatar to highlight concerns around the host country, but Gareth Southgate says they must be "realistic" as any demonstration will be "complicated" and "different to taking the knee".

Qatar's poor human rights record has been a concern during the build-up to the 2022 finals.

The nation's stance towards women and the LGBTQ+ community was widely raised as an issue before FIFA awarded it the 2022 tournament. Since then, during preparation for the finals, the deaths of thousands of migrant workers have been reported, although Qatar's organising committee disputed what it called "inaccurate claims" around the number of fatalities.

England – semi-finalists in Russia in 2018 – have qualified for the World Cup and plan to make the most of their platform.

However, manager Southgate suggested it was unlikely the Three Lions would follow the example of Norway, who wore T-shirts in qualifying calling for "human rights on and off the pitch".

Indeed, Southgate explained it was difficult to come up with the right response after learning of female and LGBTQ+ fans who were staying away.

Describing that as "a great shame", Southgate said: "We stand for inclusivity as a team, and it would be horrible to think some of our fans feel they can't go because they feel threatened, or they're worried about their safety."

Detailing England's thought process, he continued: "I don't think it's something where we're just going to be able to come out with a statement that will satisfy everything.

"This is different to taking the knee and the importance we felt on that. We're not saying this is any less important.

"We feel the World Cup is an opportunity to highlight some of these issues and we have a platform to be able to do that. We've also got to do that in a responsible way.

"I'm not sure that just wearing a T-shirt makes a difference. I don't totally know what we can do in every aspect to make a difference.

"I think we have to be realistic about what that might be. We're going to a country that FIFA decided where this tournament was going to be played: it's culturally different and religiously different.

"So, there are some things we're not going to be able to affect. Maybe there are some things that we can affect.

"If we can and we think they're worthwhile, then we'll try to do that. Without a doubt, one of the priorities in my mind is our own fans and how they're going to be dealt with in particular, but there may be other issues.

"I don't think any of us are complacent about any of it. I'm certainly taking it very seriously. I want to make sure the players are protected, I want to make sure they are able to use their voice in the right way, but I also don't want them to be used with broader agendas at play, perhaps.

"So, it's going to be complicated. And I think we're going to get some criticism whatever we do, but we're going to try to do the best that we can."

Olivier Giroud has been handed a recall by France and a chance to put himself firmly back in Didier Deschamps' World Cup plans.

The Milan striker has not featured in a match for France since Les Bleus exited Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland last June.

He has 46 goals for his country in 110 games, which puts him only five strikes behind Thierry Henry on the team's all-time list.

It appeared Giroud's international career might be over as coach Deschamps opted against calling him into recent squads.

However, a calf injury sustained by Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, ruling him out of Sunday's game against Barcelona, has led to Giroud landing a summons to join up with France for the upcoming friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa.

The French Football Federation announced the news on its website, adding that the France staff wished Benzema "a swift recovery".

Deschamps spoke about Giroud after excluding him from a 23-player squad on Thursday, pointing to the 35-year-old's impressive form for Milan.

Giroud has helped Milan top Serie A, scoring eight goals in 20 games in the league, ahead of Saturday's trip to face Cagliari.

Assessing Giroud, Deschamps said: "It's going well for him at the moment. He's scoring important goals with Milan. I'm happy for him.

"I've got decisions to make. I know what Olivier is capable of doing with us. He remains available to France even if I haven't called him up for this get-together."

Now, though, Giroud comes into the picture once again, eight months out from the World Cup in Qatar.

France play Ivory Coast in Marseille on March 25, and South Africa in Lille four days later.

France boss Didier Deschamps insisted his decision to drop Kurt Zouma was "only a sporting choice" and not linked to an incident that saw the defender appear to attack a pet cat.

Zouma was called up for World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Finland in November but was notably absent when Deschamps named his latest squad on Thursday.

Animal welfare charity the RSPCA has begun the process of bringing a prosecution against the West Ham player and his brother Yoan after video footage emerged of the alleged attack on the cat in February.

Zouma has continued to be selected by West Ham boss David Moyes in spite of public outrage, although the 27-year-old has been fined "the maximum amount possible" – reported to be £250,000 – and has apologised.

Deschamps was asked about the reason for leaving Zouma out of his plans for friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa, and stressed he had not taken off-field factors into account.

"I don't know if it's a strong choice," he said of Zouma's omission. "I don't know, because I haven't called him up systematically.

"In November, he came because Raphael Varane was injured. This remains a sporting choice, only sporting, as with all the choices I make.

"I've had him on the telephone and spoken with him about this affair, but I'm not going to go back over that. I've spoken about it. It remains solely a sporting choice."

Zouma started four games for France in 2021 but was often not actively involved, as Deschamps indicated.

There was also no room in France's latest 23-player group for Olivier Giroud, despite the veteran striker helping Milan lead the way in the Serie A title race.

Giroud has not featured for France since Les Bleus exited Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland last June.

Deschamps said: "It's going well for him at the moment. He's scoring important goals with Milan. I'm happy for him.

"I've got decisions to make. I know what Olivier is capable of doing with us. He remains available to France even if I haven't called him up for this get-together."

The head coach handed first call-ups to RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku and Lens defender Jonathan Clauss, saying he had been impressed with their club performances and adding: "I think now is the right time to have a look at them."

France play Ivory Coast in Marseille on March 25, and South Africa in Lille four days later.

France squad: Areola (West Ham), Lloris (Tottenham), Maignan (Milan); Clauss (Lens), Digne (Aston Villa), L Hernandez (Bayern Munich), T Hernandez (Milan), Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Kounde (Sevilla), Pavard (Bayern Munich), Varane (Manchester United); Guendouzi (Marseille), Kante (Chelsea), Pogba (Manchester United), Rabiot (Juventus), Tchouameni (Monaco); Ben Yedder (Monaco), Benzema (Real Madrid), Coman (Bayern Munich), Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen), Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Nkunku (RB Leipzig).

Christian Eriksen has been named in Denmark's squad for their upcoming friendlies, capping a remarkable return for the playmaker after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

The 30-year-old's career looked to be over just nine months ago when collapsing on the pitch in Denmark's group-stage clash with Finland in Copenhagen.

He subsequently underwent an operation to have an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) fitted, which left him unable to feature for former club Inter due to Serie A rulings.

However, after spending time building up his fitness with boyhood club Odense and Ajax's reserve side, Eriksen was handed a six-month contract with Brentford in January. 

And having featured three times for his new club in what is his second spell in the Premier League, the former Tottenham midfielder is now back in the Denmark fold.

Eriksen was part of the 23-man squad named by Kasper Hjulmand on Tuesday ahead of friendlies against the Netherlands and Serbia later this month.

"He is 100 per cent ready and is where he needs to be," Hjulmand said of Eriksen, who has 109 caps to his name.

Denmark have already booked their place at the 2022 World Cup, which Eriksen may now be a part of following this latest chapter in his incredible return to the pitch.

Also included in Denmark's latest squad is Preston North End goalkeeper Daniel Iversen, who is in line for his senior debut, while Barcelona's Martin Braithwaite has been left out.

The Red and Whites take on the Netherlands in Amsterdam on March 26 and host Serbia at Parken Stadium three days later.


Denmark squad:

Kasper Schmeichel, Frederik, Ronnow, Daniel Iversen, Rasmus Nissen, Alexander Bah, Joachim Andersen, Victor Nelsson, Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Joakim Maehle, Christian Eriksen, Philip Billing, Christian Norgaard, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, Mathias Jenney, Thomas Dela, Jesper Lindstrom, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Kasper Dolberg, Andreas Cornelius, Jonas Wind, Andreas Skov Olsen, Yussuf Yurary

Cristiano Ronaldo "is a player who really needs to play" insisted Portugal head coach Fernando Santos, who appeared to criticise Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ronaldo scored for the ninth time in seven Portugal appearances as the Selecao eased past Qatar 3-0 in Saturday's international friendly.

The all-time leading men's international scorer with 112, Ronaldo started and played 45 minutes after he was benched by United boss Solskjaer in the Premier League last week.

Ronaldo – who has scored against a record 46 nations for Portugal – was rested as Solskjaer opted to start Edinson Cavani before introducing the Portuguese superstar for the final 33 minutes in a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Everton.

After Portugal's routine win, Santos seemingly aimed a subtle dig at Solskjaer in Ronaldo's historic 181st international appearance.

"It was important to give him some playing time and I understood that it would be better to give him 45 minutes," Santos said post-match.

"Ronaldo is a player who really needs to play, to have contact with the ball. Training is not the same thing. In the last match, he had played 20 minutes [it was 33 minutes]."

Ronaldo has hit the ground running in his second stint with United, the 36-year-old having returned from Juventus before the end of the transfer window.

Named September's Player of the Month in the Premier League, Ronaldo has scored five goals for United, including three in the Premier League.

Ronaldo has outperformed his expected goals (xG – 1.03), expected goals on target (xGOT – 0.9) and goals (0.89) – all three topping the Premier League list.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the ninth time in seven Portugal appearances as the Selecao cruised to a straightforward 3-0 friendly win over Qatar on Saturday.

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup in 13 months' time, this was another opportunity for them to test themselves against higher-quality opposition, but they were outclassed by a Portugal side who hardly got out of second gear.

Ronaldo capitalised on a defensive error to put Portugal 1-0 in front late in the first half, with the hosts having created numerous chances beforehand.

Jose Fonte's first ever international goal and an Andre Silva header then sealed the win for Portugal in the second period, with Qatar – who could only muster a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg last time out – offering no threat to Diogo Costa in the home side's net.

Portugal peppered the Qatar goal in the first half but were initially rather wasteful.

Silva smashed an effort into the face of Saad Al Sheeb when one-on-one in the 12th minute, though the goalkeeper knew a little more about his save soon after to deny Goncalo Guedes at the end of a bursting solo run.

Ronaldo was then guilty of slicing wide from 10 yards after reaching Diogo Dalot's cross, but he was on hand to tap in when a defender failed to clear a header across goal from his Manchester United team-mate.

Al Sheeb was drawn into a necessary save to keep out Danilo Pereira's header two minutes after the interval, but he parried the ball right to Fonte, who slammed in from close range.

A host of substitutions saw Portugal's tempo drop even further – not that it mattered. They still looked infinitely more dangerous as Silva continued to keep the Qatar defence and goalkeeper busy.

The forward did eventually find the net, meeting a wonderful cross from debutant substitute Rafael Leao – who had previous hit the crossbar and post – with a stooping header that wrapped up a simple victory.

What does it mean? Fernando Santos learns precious little

The objective of this friendly from Portugal's perspective was presumably just to keep players sharp ahead of next week's competitive action. Other than that, it is difficult to see what benefit this game was to the Selecao.

The gulf in quality was massive, far greater than the scoreline ultimately suggested, which probably is not a particularly encouraging thought for a Qatar side who will be keen not to be embarrassed as World Cup hosts next year.

Dalot stakes his claim

While the quality of the opposition may not have been great, Dalot certainly did his chances of earning a regular spot no harm with his performance on either flank. His five chances created were not bettered by anyone on the pitch, while he also played the pass that led to Ronaldo's opener.

Silva gets reward for persistence

Silva's overall display was good, with the RB Leipzig striker a regular threat to the Qatar goal, though he was quite wasteful. He had six shots – only two of which were on target – before eventually finding the net with his seventh.

What's next?

Portugal return to World Cup qualification on Tuesday as they host Luxembourg.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos is worried by the number of goals his side have conceded in recent games.

The Selecao claimed a 3-1 win over nine-man Qatar in Saturday's friendly to make it back-to-back victories since exiting Euro 2020 to Belgium at the last-16 stage.

Santos made 11 changes on the back of the late 2-1 victory over Republic of Ireland and Portugal took time to get going against World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar.

However, quickfire goals from Andre Silva and debutant Otavio put Portugal in control at half-time, at which point Qatar were a player short after Meshaal Barsham was dismissed.

Portugal switched off in the second period and gave their opponents a route back into the game when Abdelkarim Hassan headed in unmarked.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty late on to seal the win for the 2016 European champions, but Santos was not entirely pleased with his much-changed side's performance.

"In the first 15 minutes, we were good in terms of our defensive organisation," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"When Qatar were looking to attack from behind, we were good. We never let Qatar create, we stole a lot of balls and with clear situations of being able to score on the counter.

"But in ball circulation, we were very slow and a lot of passes went astray, which allowed Qatar to create two or three opportunities on the counter-attack. 

"They have very fast players up front. In the first 15 minutes, in terms of scoring opportunities, we ended up being equal. 

"After those 15 minutes, the possibility for them to counter-attack ended, the team began to circulate in a different way, creating situations with lots of security. 

"We pressed very well, made it 2-0 and it could have been more.

"We were still good in the first 10 minutes of the second half. But we disconnected a little and let the opponent pick up the ball and they scored, meaning we couldn't relax."

Portugal, who required a couple of late headers from Cristiano Ronaldo to overcome Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, have now conceded nine goals in their last five matches.

That follows on from a run of three games in a row without conceding earlier this year.

"A team that concedes nine goals in five games is worrying," Santos added. "There are things we have always done very well and one of them is defensive set-pieces.

"It was very rare for us to concede goals like that, but now we do. I've already alerted the players to that. Just this morning we spent time working on set-pieces."

Brazilian-born Otavio obtained Portuguese citizenship in March and marked his first appearance for the Selecao with a goal.

He scored from one of his two shots on target and also played a joint-high three key passes, which was matched by Fernandes despite the midfielder only playing 30 minutes.

Asked what he made of Otavio's display, Santos said: "He was part of the group of players that did well for 30 minutes."

Portugal switch focus back to their World Cup qualifying Group A campaign with a trip to Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka has tested positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Switzerland.

The Swiss team confirmed on Wednesday that the midfielder – who was sent off in Arsenal's 5-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City last weekend – was in isolation after returning a positive PCR test result.

Xhaka, who is Switzerland's captain, showed symptoms early on Wednesday, ahead of his country's friendly against Greece,

An initial test came back negative, but a subsequent PCR test confirmed a positive result. Xhaka will have another test on Thursday.

It was confirmed he had no contact with his team-mates throughout Wednesday and the team doctor deemed no further measures had to be taken as all the other players were either all vaccinated or had previously had COVID-19 and recovered, though a member of staff had to go into quarantine.

Xhaka impressed for Switzerland at Euro 2020 but has failed to bring that form into the Premier League season, with Arsenal losing all three of their games so far.

Mikel Arteta's side sit bottom of the table heading into the clash with Norwich City following the international break, though regardless of Xhaka's mandatory quarantine period, the midfielder is facing a three-match suspension so will not be involved.

Cristiano Ronaldo will play in all three of Portugal's fixtures during the international break following his return to Manchester United, head coach Fernando Santos said.

Ronaldo completed his United comeback on Tuesday, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner re-joining the Red Devils from Juventus for a second spell following his successful first stint at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009.

Amid the hype in Manchester, Ronaldo's attention has swiftly turned to matters with Portugal as Santos' men prepare to face Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

Portugal will also meet Qatar in a friendly on Saturday before resuming their road to Qatar 2022 against Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

As Ronaldo stands on the cusp of breaking his tie with Ali Daei for the most international goals in men's football (109), Santos confirmed the 36-year-old's availability.

"I am interested in [Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes'] motivation while playing for the national team. You're a British journalist, you can ask them about Manchester United when they are back at their club," Santos told reporters.

"For me, the important thing is that they will be focused on the national team. I can say that they are motivated for the three matches we have ahead of us.

"There is no doubt that Ronaldo and all the players are able to play against Ireland. I understand all the attention we get because of him. He is going to play in three matches.

"We will have to manage some things, mostly in the second match, we will have to manage things. It will not be easy for the players to play three matches in seven days.

"We have to manage them across all the games, but mostly the second. It is always important because it is a national team match."

Formerly a dazzling winger but now a penalty-box poacher, Ronaldo has netted 674 times across 895 club games in all competitions, averaging a goal every 108 minutes.

Those 674 goals break down into 122 with his supposedly weaker left foot, 110 with his head and 440 with his favoured right boot.

Following his arrival as a fresh-faced teenager from Sporting in 2003, he scored 118 times for United across 292 appearances before his departure in 2009.

Between his entrance on the Premier League stage and his final appearance in May 2009, Frank Lampard (131) and Thierry Henry (124) are the only two to have a hand in more English top-flight goals than Ronaldo (118) – Henry (92) the only one to outscore Ronaldo's 84.

Ronaldo is a five-time winner of the Champions League, leading the all-time scoring charts with 134 goals in 176 games – 14 ahead of second place, and eternal rival, Lionel Messi.

Wales caretaker boss Rob Page insists Gareth Bale still has the hunger and desire to play for his country after including the player in his squad for the upcoming international break.

Page's side face Finland in a friendly on September 1, before resuming their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a double-header against Belarus and Estonia.

Speculation surrounded Bale's international future following the Dragons' exit from Euro 2020 at the hands of Denmark.

However, the Real Madrid forward, who has 96 caps to his name, could edge closer to becoming Wales' second centurion after being selected by Page.

Bale, who spent last season on loan at Tottenham, has started twice this season under new Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti, scoring in Sunday's 3-3 draw at Levante.

And Page is confident his talisman has "got the bug back" for football.

 

"It's great news. You want all your players playing competitive football when they come to the camp," Page told Sky Sports News.

"To get any of your players playing week in, week out is a bonus.

"But when you've got Gareth playing now and finding he's got the bug back again, which I saw in some of his performances for Tottenham at the back end of last season, is great news for us.

"He's got a hunger to play week in, week out for his club and he's got an absolute hunger and desire to play for Wales.

"As long as I can see that in his performances then there's going to be no issues whatsoever."

Mexico fired a blank as El Tri were held to a 0-0 draw by Honduras ahead of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Tata Martino's Mexico were taking to the field for the first time since their thrilling 3-2 extra-time defeat to rivals the United States in the inaugural Nations League final last week.

Saturday's international friendly served as preparation for the Gold Cup, which gets underway in the USA on July 10.

Mexico are the defending champions, but they have work to do following their goalless draw with Honduras in front of a huge crowd in Atlanta.

With more than 70,000 fans in attendance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Mexico had the two best chances of the match.

Carlos Rodriguez rattled the crossbar with a powerful strike in the 30th minute, while Uriel Antuna found himself unmarked in the second minute of stoppage time but saw his header sail wide.

Mexico will face Panama (June 30) and Nigeria (July 3) before opening their Gold Cup campaign on July 10.

El Tri have been drawn in Group A, alongside El Salvador and Curacao, with Mexico also set to face the winner of the preliminary match.

Diego Llorente is set to return to Spain's training camp on Friday after returning a negative test for coronavirus.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said the Leeds United defender had become the second player in camp to test positive for COVID-19 ahead of their Euro 2020 opener, with captain Sergio Busquets the first to have done so.

Llorente was removed from the team's base and was due to begin 10 days of self-isolation in line with COVID-19 health protocols.

However, a statement from the RFEF said a follow-up test undertaken on Wednesday came back negative, and that there are indications of a "false positive" from the original test.

Llorente will undergo further tests on Thursday and Friday and will be allowed to return to camp if both come back negative.

Busquets' positive result plunged Spain's preparations for their Group E opener against Sweden on Monday into chaos, with group training suspended and all members of the squad preparing individually.

It meant Spain's U-21 squad was drafted in for Tuesday's 4-0 win over Lithuania, a match that was supposed to be the main team's final warm-up for the rearranged tournament.

A 17-man parallel squad remains in place at Spain's base should any further replacements be needed.

A youthful United States side had no trouble with Costa Rica on Wednesday, rolling to a 4-0 friendly victory at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. 

USA head coach Gregg Berhalter made nine changes from the side that defeated Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League final on Sunday, naming a starting XI with an average age of 23 years, 278 days. 

With stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie resting on the bench, two USA players scored their first international goals in a match that was never in doubt. 

Brenden Aaronson opened the scoring after eight minutes, rushing into the area to drive a rebound past Leonel Moreira after Daryl Dike's shot attempt was blocked by a Costa Rica defender. 

Three minutes before the interval, Dike slipped behind the Costa Rica defense and eased a shot past the onrushing Moreira for his first international goal and a 2-0 USA lead at the break. 

Early in the second half, Reggie Cannon opened his international account as well, slotting home a left-footed shot after intercepting a careless Costa Rica pass. 

Moments after coming on as a substitute in the 75th minute, 18-year-old Gio Reyna drew a penalty on a foul by Keysher Fuller in the box and converted for his fourth USA goal. 

Ethan Horvath got the start in goal for the USA on his 26th birthday after his stunning 120th-minute penalty save on Mexico's Andres Guardado on Sunday and turned in a clean sheet. 

Costa Rica are now winless in their last 11 matches (2D, 9L) dating to a 2-1 victory over Curacao in November 2019. 

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