BRASILIA: Neymar scored a hat-trick as Brazil routed South Africa 5-0 while Spain edged fellow heavyweights Italy 1-0, but a host of World Cup rivals faltered.
Ninety-nine days out from the World Cup, there were unimpressive 1-0 friendly wins on Wednesday for England and Germany over Denmark and Chile respectively.
Argentina and Colombia were held to draws while fellow finalists Australia, Ghana and the United States were all beaten.
At Soweto, Chelsea’s Oscar opened the scoring for Brazil on 10 minutes, Barcelona ace Neymar struck once in the first half and twice in the second, and Manchester City’s Fernandinho marked his first start with a goal as well.
It was the final warm-up for the World Cup favourites before the May announcement of their 23-man squad.
Brazil’s Neymar (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s fifth goal during their international friendly against South Africa in Soweto on March 5, 2014.
Pedro Rodriguez’s goal was enough to give world and European champions Spain a 1-0 win over Italy in their final game before coach Vicente del Bosque names his squad to defend their world title.
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa was handed his debut on home soil at Madrid’s Vicente Calderon in what was a rematch of the Euro 2012 final.
Spain’s Pedro Rodriguez celebrates after scoring during their international friendly against Italy in Madrid on March 5, 2014
However, Costa failed to make much of an impression and it was Spain’s top goalscorer in qualification, Pedro, who made the difference when his shot squirmed under Gianluigi Buffon just after the hour mark.