A STUNNING first half double from Poland captain Robert Lewandowski was the highlight on the final day of international friendlies before the World Cup kicks off in Russia on Friday morning AEST.
The Bayern Munich striker scored twice in the first 33 minutes of a cruisy 4-0 win over Lithuania before being subbed off at half time.
Elsewhere, Japan capped their preparations with a 4-2 win over Paraguay, inclusiding a double to Takashi Inui, a strike from Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa and an own goal.
Lewandowski’s FK stunner
HERE’S A FULL WRAP OF THE OVERNIGHT ACTION…
POLAND 4-0 LITHUANIA
The Poles were themselves given a boost as two strikes from captain Robert Lewandowski followed by goals from Dawid Kownacki and Jakub Blaszczykowski gave them a 4-0 victory over Lithuania in their final pre-World Cup friendly in Warsaw.
Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski, preparing for his first appearance at a World Cup, finished a team move with a precise strike for the opener. The 29-year-old doubled his tally after the half hour mark from a free kick cannoned off the bar and bounced out of the goal with the referee informed by goalline technology that the ball had crossed the line.
After the break, Sampdoria’s Kownacki found the net after being set up by his club teammate Bartosz Bereszynski in the 71st minute.
Blaszczykowski completed the rout ten minutes later when he converted a penalty after the Video Assistant Referee signalled that Lithuania’s Algis Jankauskas had handled in the area.
PARAGUAY 2-4 JAPAN
Japan completed their preparations for the World Cup with a 4-2 win over Paraguay in Innsbruck.
Paraguay, who failed to qualify for the finals in Russia, took the lead in the 32nd minute through Oscar Romero before Eibar midfielder Takashi Inui equalised early in the second half.
Japan went ahead in the 63rd minute when Inui found the net again, before an own goal by Paraguay forward Federico Santander made it 3-1 after 77 minutes.
Richard Ortiz reduced the deficit in the final minute, but Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa wrapped up victory with a fourth Japan goal during stoppage time. It is Japan’s first win under coach Akira Nishino, who took over from Vahid Halilhodzic in April, following 2-0 defeats to both Ghana and Switzerland in his previous matches.
The Samurai Blue open their Group H campaign against Colombia in Saransk on June 19, before fixtures against Senegal and Poland.
The 2010 winners drew their opener 3-3 with European champions Portugal and, after making hard work of a narrow 1-0 win over Iran, they need at least a point to make the last 16 for the first time since that tournament.
“It’s always tough against teams who are eliminated,” Hierro said. “Mathematically we have not yet qualified and we have to give the match the importance it deserves.”
Morocco were the first team eliminated from Russia but coach Herve Renard feels his side had been on the wrong end of several refereeing decisions during successive 1-0 losses.
“When you look at the facts in the Portugal game, it’s totally unfair,” Renard said.
“For the goal we conceded, there was an obvious foul by (defender) Pepe at the front post. Why did (the referee) not see it?
“It’s unfair that we’re already eliminated but we have to accept reality.”
FOLLOW LIVE! (If you can’t see the blog, click here)
The Socceroos need to beat Peru and hope France beat Denmark in order to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since 2006.
But it’s not quite that simple. Because of the 1-1 draw against Denmark, should the Socceroos beat Peru 1-0 and the Danes lose to France 2-1 both the Socceroos and Denmark will be level on points and goal difference.
Neither side will want that kind of heartbreak, of course, and so the Socceroos need to win, win well and keep a clean sheet to give themselves the best chance of progressing.
The stakes are high, but after excellent performances against both France and Denmark the Socceroos can feel confident of getting a result against Peru, who have nothing to play for but pride after their defeat to France ensured an early exit.
WHEN AND WHERE?
June 27 at Fisht Stadium in Sochi. Kick-off is scheduled for 12am (AEST) on Wednesday.
HOW CAN I WATCH IT?
Watch the match live on both SBS and Optus Sport. Follow all the action with foxsports.com.au’s live blog and in-depth coverage.
Injury concerns: Jefferson Farfan has all but been ruled out after the winger suffered a blow to the head in training. Farfan clashed with the goalkeeper and was rushed to hospital with a head injury, but is reportedly out of danger.
Head to head
This is the first meeting between these two nations.
The 27-year-old pulls the strings in the middle of the park, whips dangerous balls into the box and stands over the Socceroos’ dead-ball situations.
He has stepped up to the responsibility with ease and he will need to maintain the composure against Peru’s slightly more flamboyant midfield.
Peru: Paolo Guerrero
He hasn’t got on the scoresheet yet this tournament, but Paolo Guerrero is Peru’s biggest threat going forward.
Peru’s all-time leading goal scorer was surprising left on the bench for the first match against Denmark, but made such an impact when he came on that he was back in the starting line-up against France.
Socceroos defenders Trent Sainsbury and Mark Milligan will have their work cut out for them, with the veteran determined not to exit the tournament without something to his name.
THE TALKING POINTS
The hot topic is Bert van Marwijk’s team selection.
When Daniel Arzani entered the game in the second half against Denmark, the young starlet made an immediate impact.
Whether Van Marwijk decides to keep the 19-year-old on the bench or start him in place of Robbie Kruse will be a telling indication of how he plans to approach the match.
Then there’s Tim Cahill. The Socceroos’ all-time leading goal scorer should have come on against Denmark in a situation that was made for him.
Will the 38-year-old get his opportunity to create his own history by scoring in his fourth World Cup?
WHY THE SOCCEROOS WILL WIN
Their performances against France and Denmark will have instilled belief and confidence in the team.
The Socceroos were unlucky not to have picked up all three points against Denmark and will be driven by that disappointment.
In Maty Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Mile Jedinak and Aaron Mooy the Socceroos have the most crucial positions on the park well covered, but they all need to maintain their excellent form.
Also, Peru have not won at the World Cup since 1978, when they beat Iran 4-1.
WHY PERU WILL WIN
Having nothing to play for often enables a team to play with freedom.
They’ve had such passionate support from their fans, which will make them determined not to leave the World Cup empty-handed.
The Socceroos also have a poor record against South American nations, with just eight wins in 41 matches.