Denmark's Christian Eriksen made an emotional goal-scoring return to international football on Saturday as Germany and Spain carved out friendly victories.
Eriksen found the net two minutes after coming on with a powerful drive in a 4-2 defeat against fellow World Cup qualifiers Netherlands in Amsterdam.
It was his first national team appearance since suffering a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s opening game of the European Championships against Finland in Copenhagen last June.
On Saturday, to the resounding applause of fans and even Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, the 30-year-old came off the bench and raised his hands to the sky in thanks.
His goal was 37th in 110 appearances. It was fitting he scored in the Amsterdam Arena, the home of Ajax.
Meanwhile, Chelsea pair Kai Havertz and Timo Werner both hit the net as Germany eased past Israel 2-0 in Sinsheim.After the Premier League pair scored first-half goals, Germany’s stand-in captain Thomas Mueller and Israel sub Yonatan Cohen both failed to convert late penalty attempts.
Germany head coach Hansi Flick has now won his first eight internationals to extend his record start.
“On the whole, it was a good performance from us for the first game of the new year,” Werner told broadcaster ZDF.
Spain, World Cup winners in 2010, had to work hard to carve out a 2-1 win against 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 equalising 10 minutes later. However, Dani Olmo saved Spain’s blushes with a last-minute winner as Spain secured an eighth win in eight matches against Albania.
“We knew it was going to be difficult. Albania are a team who defend very well,” Olmo said.