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Star men Messi, Ronaldo in friendly shadows

Star men Messi Ronaldo in friendly shadows Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo spent a rare Saturday in the shadows as Argentina and Portugal slipped to defeats in friendly internationals staged more than 8,000km apart.

Messi missed a first-half penalty as Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in a fiercely contested “Superclasico” in front of 50,000 fans in the Chinese capital.

Seven hours later, Ronaldo’s Portugal lost 2-1 to France in Paris.

At Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, journeyman Diego Tardelli was the unlikely hero with his first two goals for Brazil.

Atletico Mineiro striker Tardelli, 29, put Brazil ahead on 28 minutes, before Messi curled his soft penalty attempt close to goalkeeper Jefferson just before half-time.

Tardelli was on target again in the second half as Brazil restored pride after the World Cup, when the hosts were hammered in the semis while Argentina reached the final.

“Brazil are the best team in the world with a great tradition,” beamed coach Dunga, who is rebuilding following the 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany.

“We have no big players, we are now acting as one team. The whole team is evolving, including me.”

Barcelona icon Messi has now missed two successive penalties — two weeks after he also miscued one for his club against Levante.

“We always try to win but today we couldn’t. It was a match defined by our two mistakes,” said Messi.

“The error for the first goal and the penalty were crucial. If I had converted, it could have changed the game.”

At the Stade de France in Paris, Karim Benzema scored an early goal and set up Paul Pogba’s winner as France beat Portugal.

– PTI