Confederations Cup participants Mexico, Chile and Portugal continued their preparations with comfortable warm-up wins in recent days, while New Zealand slipped to a narrow defeat but showed promise ahead of their tournament opener against Russia on June 17.
Mexico met Ireland in a friendly match in front of 42,000 fans at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, USA, on Thursday night.
An under-strength Ireland were no match for their Latin American opponents, with Mexico running riot and going three goals up courtesy of first-half strikes by Jesus Corona and Raul Jimenez – the latter of which was a penalty – and Carlos Vela's close-range finish in the second half.
Ireland pulled a consolation goal back through substitute Stephen Gleeson, but El Tri were comfortable winners and are shaping up well ahead of their Confederations Cup opener against European champions Portugal on June 18.
Juan Carlos Osorio’s men put a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Croatia in their previous game behind them to dominate throughout against the Irish, with Corona and Vela looking particularly lively, while Jorge ‘Burrito’ Hernandez was man of the match on his debut for the national team.
They now face home CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Honduras on June 8 and against fierce rivals the United States on June 11. They then head to the Tournament of Champions, where they have been drawn in Group A alongside hosts Russia, Portugal and Oceania champions New Zealand.
Meanwhile, New Zealand fell to a defeat in Belfast, going down 1-0 against Northern Ireland on Friday. Liam Boyce gave the Northern Ireland team the win thanks to his sixth-minute strike, when he cut inside and fired low into the net.
While the Northern Ireland team dominated large parts of the first half, the All Whites came into the game after half-time, with substitute Kosta Barbarouses hitting the post.
Next up for Anthony Hudson’s team is Irish club side Cabinteely FC in Dublin on June 6, followed by Belarus in Minsk on June 12.
They then head to Russia to take on the hosts in the opening game of the Confederations Cup in St. Petersburg on Saturday, June 17.
Fellow Confederations Cup Group A team Portugal brushed aside Cyprus 4-0 in Estoril on Saturday, thanks to a double from Joao Moutinho and strikes from Afonso Fernandes (Pizzi) and Andre Silva.
The European champions didn’t appear to miss skipper Cristiano Ronaldo – who was helping Real Madrid to win their 11th European Cup in Cardiff, scoring a double in the process – and ran out comfortable winners.
Next up for Portugal is a World Cup qualifier against Latvia on Friday, before they take on Mexico at Kazan Arena on June 18 in their Confed Cup opener.
Meanwhile, Confederations Cup Group B participants Chile secured a resounding 3-0 win over Burkina Faso at the Estadio Nacional de Chile.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal struck twice, while Angelo Sagal also scored late on.
The hosts had an astonishing 28 shots on goal and 79 percent possession.
The Copa America champions next face Confederations Cup hosts Russia in a friendly at the VEB Arena in Moscow on June 9, before starting their Group B campaign against Cameroon on June 18 at Spartak Stadium in the Russian capital.
The Confederations Cup will be held at stadiums across four Russian cities – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi – from June 17 to July 2.
It’s seen a precursor to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which will be played at 12 stadiums across 11 Russian cities from June 14 to July 15. It will be the first time either tournament has been held in Russia.