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Winners and Losers from International Friendlies on September 3

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

Winners and Losers from International Friendlies on September 3

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Domestic football has taken a break for the next fortnight as international football returns.

    The World Cup finished less than two months ago, but with Euro 2016 qualifiers and other important fixtures to worry about, Germany's success has quickly become a distant memory.

    It's all about the future now and on Wednesday, we saw a glimpse of it.

    In a rematch of the World Cup final, Germany entertained Argentina in Dusseldorf.

    Whereas Joachim Low's side came out 1-0 winners at the Maracana in June, though, this time they were on the losing side as an Angel Di Maria-inspired Argentina ran out 4-2 winners.

    A young England team took on Norway at a half-empty Wembley Stadium, winning 1-0 thanks to Wayne Rooney's second-half penalty.

    Elsewhere, Russia beat Azaerbaijan 4-0, Turkey overcome Denmark 2-1 and USA defeated Czech Republic 1-0 at the Generali Arena in Prague—Alejandro Bedoya's goal proving enough for victory.

    Bleacher Report takes a look at the winners and losers from the midweek action.

Winners: Argentina

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Losing in the World Cup final to Germany is still very much an open wound for Argentina, but Gerardo Martino's side started the healing process on Wednesday with an impressive victory over none other than the world champions.

    In the grander scheme of things, Argentina's 4-2 win counts for very little, although it will go a long way to restoring some belief and confidence into a team that just two months ago was on its knees following defeat.

    Argentina seemed hell-bent on exacting some form of revenge for their Maracana defeat, too, racing into a 4-0 lead inside the first 50 minutes.

    Sergio Aguero, Erik Lamela, Federico Fernandez and Angel Di Maria scored the goals before Andre Schurrle and Mario Goetze—scorer of the winning goal in the World Cup final—restored some German pride.

Losers: England Fans Who Stayed Away

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Call us romantic, but the appeal of football and what sets it apart from other sports is just as much the experience of following your team as it is the team itself.

    Being a football fan is unlike anything else, and the sport is famed for supporters following their team through thick and thin, taking the rough with the smooth.

    Sure, England fans have endured more rough down the years, yet they have always stood by the team and supported them.

    Not any more it seems.

    A mere 40,181 turned out for the 1-0 win over Norway—the lowest attendance for an England international since Wembley was redeveloped in 2007.

    Some will have us think it's a sign of the times, that England supporters have endured enough.

    Truth be told, with an unglamorous fixture coming at the back end of the school holidays, it's probably of mixture of protest at England's poor World Cup and simple inconvenience for fans to attend.

    Either way, England's new generation has been tarred with the same brush as those players who were seen to have their country down in the past.

    A host of new faces were in Roy Hodgson's post-World Cup squad, including Calum Chambers, John Stones, Fabian Delph and Danny Rose.

    New dawn it may be, but this new crop of players cannot escape the past of which they played little part.

    Already there is negativity surrounding this England team before they have even had a chance to create something.

    Instead of the focus being on the new players and the positives that brings, it's going to be on the fans who didn't turn up to support them.

Winner: Angel Di Maria

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Leading on from our earlier slide, Angel Di Maria has plenty of reasons to be happy with himself lately.

    Indeed, not content with being the poster boy of Manchester United, he is putting his best foot forward to be Argentina's.

    Things keep getting better and better for the 26-year-old who, right now, doesn't seem capable of putting a foot wrong.

    Only last week he was confirmed as the most expensive player in British transfer history, costing United a cool £59.7 million from Real Madrid.

    And on Wednesday, he helped heal some of his country's wounds from the World Cup, all but single-handedly dismantling Germany is Dusseldorf.

    Di Maria grabbed assists in all three of his Argentina's opening goals, before rounding off a fine performance by scoring their fourth.

    Argentina eventually won the game 4-2 and Di Maria was the reason why.

Losers: Denmark

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    Jens Dresling/Associated Press

    There's a song that football fans in Britain often sing when their team has come from behind to win a game.

    "One-nil and f----d it up," can be heard chanted with gusto, goading their opponents.

    We're not sure of the Turkish equivalent, but we are pretty certain Turkey fans would have been singing it after they came from behind to defeat Denmark on Wednesday.

    The Danes had taken the lead through Daniel Agger's penalty in the first half before they, shall we say, messed things up somewhat.

    Olcay Sahan pulled the Turks level on 54 minutes and the game seemed destined to end as a draw until 19-year-old Ozan Tufan popped up to score the winner in the second minute of stoppage time.

    It left the Danes distraught, despite the game being a friendly.

    While they were the losers, we must add that, for one so young, it left Tufan a hero in our book, also.

Winner: Wayne Rooney

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Recently appointed as successor to Steven Gerrard to wear the England armband, Wayne Rooney got his international captaincy off to the perfect start on Wednesday.

    England's performance will need to be fine-tuned in the coming weeks and months, but as the scorer of the game's only goal, Rooney will take that now.

    It was a big occasion for the Manchester United striker and he made no mistake from 12 yards to give England a win—their first since May.

    He's made a little bit of history in the process, too, and now on 41 goals, he is edging ever closer to emulating Sir Bobby Charlton's scoring record.

    There is work to be done where England are concerned, but with Rooney as captain, the Three Lions have taken a small step forward with victory, at least.

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