Football friendlies: Pepe scores on 100th appearance as Portugal hold Croatia; Wesley Sneijder retires in winhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/football-friendlies-portugal-vs-croatia-netherlands-vs-peru-5344002/

Football friendlies: Pepe scores on 100th appearance as Portugal hold Croatia; Wesley Sneijder retires in win

Brazilian-born Pepe, handed the captaincy for the match, levelled 14 minutes later with a thumping header from Pizzi's cross.

Portugal's Pepe celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal
Pepe scored from a header to level matters against World Cup runner-ups Croatia. (Source: Reuters)

Portugal defender Pepe celebrated his 100th cap by heading the equaliser to give his side a 1-1 draw against World Cup runners-up Croatia in a friendly on Thursday.

Croatia took the lead in the 18th minute when forward Ivan Perisic, one of five members of their starting line-up who played in the World Cup final against France, fired home a loose ball after it ricocheted around the Portugal defence.

Brazilian-born Pepe, handed the captaincy for the match, levelled 14 minutes later with a thumping header from Pizzi’s cross.

Portugal rested all-time leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, still adapting to his move from Real Madrid to Juventus, while Sergio Oliveira and Sao Tome-born Gedson Fernandes won their first caps after coming on as second-half substitutes.

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“We played well with a lot of young players trying to show their value,” Pepe, 35, told RTP television. “I’m extremely happy. I’m grateful for the opportunity and everything Portugal has given me and I try to enjoy every moment.”

A lively Portugal dominated the second half and nearly won the game when Mario Rui’s low cross was deflected on to the foot of the post by Croatia defender Antonio Milic.

Croatia midfielder Luka Modric was applauded off the field by the home crowd when he was substituted in the 55th minute.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and striker Mario Mandzukic have announced their retirement from international football while midfielder Ivan Rakitic was rested for the game.

Netherlands beat Peru 2-1 in Wesley Sneijder’s last match

Wesley Sneijder of The Netherlands greets coach Ronald Koeman of The Netherlands as he retires from international soccer after the international friendly soccer match between The Netherlands and Peru at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Thursday
Wesley Sneijder retired from international football after 134 games. (Source: AP)

Amsterdam: Memphis Depay stole the show Thursday by scoring both Dutch goals as the Netherlands beat Peru 2-1 in a friendly billed as a farewell to record midfielder Wesley Sneijder.

The match was the 134th and final international for Sneijder, the 34-year-old former Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Ajax star. It was also an important warmup for the Netherlands’ first UEFA Nations League match – on Sunday against World Cup champion France at Saint-Denis.

The Dutch were sloppy in the first half and Pedro Aquino outjumped Daley Blind for a corner to give Peru a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.

Depay equalized on the hour after Frenkie de Jong, making his international debut as a second-half substitute, won the ball and drilled a quick pass to the Olympique Lyon striker.

Sneijder was substituted immediately after the goal, hugging all his teammates as he left the pitch to cheers of “Wesley thanks!” from the crowd at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

“It’s over, it’s done. My last match … in the orange shirt,” Sneijder said. “Everything comes to an end.”

Depay then ensured Sneijder’s finale would be a win by volleying home Quincy Promes’ blocked shot in the 83rd minute.

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At a ceremony after the match, fans slapped their heads, mimicking Sneijder’s celebration when he scored a header winner against Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinal in South Africa.

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