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Starters: Germany, France win

Hosts crushed L'bourg 7-0 as its World Cup preparations moved up a gear.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 02:30 IST

Germany shrugged off the absence of Michael Ballack to crush Luxembourg 7-0 as the hosts’ World Cup preparations moved up a gear.

On a busy day of international friendlies featuring 11 of the 32 nations competing in next month’s finals, France and the Netherlands also chalked up victories, albeit against much stiffer opposition.

Ruud van Nistelrooy was on target for the Dutch as they beat Cameroon 1-0 in Rotterdam, while France were also 1-0 winners against fellow finalists

Mexico, Florent Malouda thumping in the winner just before half-time.

Zinedine Zidane, who will retire after the World Cup, celebrated his 100th cap for France, although he was substituted in the second half after a low-key display in the Stade de France, scene of his country's 1998 World Cup triumph.

“Everything has to end. I'll come back, as a spectator. Now we all have to focus on the two matches we have left before the World Cup,” Zidane said.

Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Oliver Neuville all grabbed a couple of goals to raise the feel-good factor in Juergen Klinsmann's Germany squad after some unflattering headlines in recent months.

Germany captain Ballack missed the friendly in Freiburg, still nursing a strained ankle which he sustained in Thursday’s workout against Servette Geneva's under-18s, but there was enough for Klinsmann to feel happy about.

“We're delighted when the fans are happy and everyone is in a good mood but among ourselves we know there’s a lot of work to do,” said Klinsmann after the victory against the team ranked 152nd in FIFA's rankings.

Klinsmann's mood will have been soured, however, by an ankle injury to central defender Robert Huth. Per Mertesacker replaced the Chelsea defender at half-time.

Ivory Coast came from behind to draw 1-1 with Switzerland in Basel. Emerse Fae equalised in the 47th minute after the Swiss, who are in Group G in Germany along with France, had gone ahead through Tranquillo Barnetta.

Another of Argentina’s opponents in Group C, Serbia & Montenegro, suffered a blow on Saturday when striker Mirko Vucinic was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.

Coach Ilija Petkovic said he will name a replacement in a few days. In his absence, midfielder Dejan Stankovic was on target as Serbia drew 1-1 with Uruguay in Belgrade. A hat-trick by striker Pauleta gave Portugal a 4-1 victory over the Cape Verde Islands and Spain were held 0-0 at home in Albacete by Russia.

Paraguay drew 1-1 with Denmark in Aarhus while Trinidad and Tobago lost 2-1 to Wales in Austria.