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Aguero hits hat-trick, Hart keeps clean sheet

Sergio Aguero’s rich vein of form that netted him the Premier League Golden Boot shows so no signs of slowing.

The striker celebrated his first ever senior international hat-trick in the friendly against Bolivia on Saturday night, which took his tally up to 26 goals for his country and moved him up to fifth in Argentina’s all time scorers list.

La Albiceleste continued preparations for next week's Copa America in Chile with a dominant 5-0 victory over their opponents – United’s Angel Di Maria scoring the other two goals.

With Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano still to join up with the national squad following the Champions League final, Argentina proved themselves to be in formidable form ahead of the opener against Paraguay on 13 June.

Di Maria opened the scoring after 25 minutes before Aguero stepped up to take a penalty on the half hour after Lavezzi was fouled. Kun was clinical with his well-placed kick, and he added a second in as many minutes – connecting beautifully with Di Maria’s cross.

Aguero wasn’t quite finished, adding his 26th international goal in the 51st minute, shaking off a defender before shooting past Romel Quinonez for a third time.

Di Maria completed the scoring midway through the second period from the penalty spot.

Aguero was withdrawn after an hour following an excellent night’s work, while Martin Demichelis emerged from the bench in the same raft of substitutions. Pablo Zabaleta had a night off and stayed on the subs bench, but will be hoping to make the starting XI when the tournament kicks off next weekend.

Later on, following a hugely impressive season-long loan at Celtic, Jason Denayer was handed his first senior start in Belgium’s friendly against France.

The Red Devils won 4-3 against the hosts thanks to goals from Maraoune Fellaini (2), Eden Hazard and Radja Nainggolan.

Bacary Sagna played the full 90 minutes for Les Bleus, while Eliaquim Mangala was an unused substitute.

Head Coach Marc Wilmots has recently gone on record to say that Denayer had all of the assets to go on to become one of the continent's very best players in his position, comparing him to Premier League Player of the Year, Hazard.

“Jason is like Eden Hazard,” Wilmots said. “Always calm. I’ve never seen him nervous; he has a lot of confidence and there will be someone with experience standing next to him.

“It is not too early for him. He has the qualities and if he does something wrong…that is my fault.”

Jason certainly backed up those words with a performance of the very highest calibre.

Time and time again, the 19-year old stepped in to halt promising-looking France attacks, brought the ball out of defence to launch attacks and showed what a wise head he possesses on such young shoulders.

The watching City skipper Vincent Kompany certainly approved.

Special shoutout to one of our great talents @Jasondenayer . Great performance. Keep focused, keep working hard. #MCFC #Belgium

— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) June 7, 2015

Denayer was taken off after 85 minutes and given a standing ovation, at which point his side were 4-1 up – the fact that Belgium went on to concede two goals in quick succession after, to give the scoreline a degree of respectability for France, was not lost on those watching. 

In Sao Paulo, Fernandinho played all 90 minutes and had a solid game in Brazil’s penultimate Copa America warm-up match against Mexico.

The Seleção were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Philippe Coutinho and Diego Tardelli and that’s the way it stayed, meaning the eight-time South American champions won their ninth-successive game since the 2014 World Cup.

Dunga’s side round off their preparations for next week’s tournament with a friendly against Honduras on Wednesday night.

Elsewhere, England and Ireland played out a goalless stalemate at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Joe Hart and James Milner both played the full 90 minutes in this first meeting between the sides on Irish soil since 1995.

Fears of a repeat of the kind of unsavoury scenes that lead to an abandonment on that occasion were swiftly allayed by respectful observations of the national anthems from both sets of supporters.

The home side were content to soak up England pressure in the first-half and showed the greater cutting edge on the counter-attack, nearly taking the lead after 26 minutes.

Darryl Murphy prodded the ball towards the far corner but an excellent fingertip save from a full stretch Hart prevented the boys in green from notching first.

The Three Lions were limited to pot shots from range for the most part of the first-half, with Adam Lallana coming closest to beating former City Academy keeper Keiren Westwood with his 25 yard strike which was always rising over the bar.

It was a somewhat tepid first half and the second period continued in the same vein, with chances at a premium for both sides throughout the 90.

Hart, however, continued to shine, making another excellent stop from Jon Walters’ fizzing effort from the edge of the area, batting away the shot to preserve parity.

That was as close as either side came to breaking the deadlock, meaning there was a fifth-successive draw between the nations.

Roy Hodgson's side are next in action on Sunday when they face Slovenia away from home in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

Finally, Aleksandar Kolarov played all 90 minutes as Serbia defeated Azerbaijan 4-1 in a friendly.

Liverpool's Lazar Markovic and Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic were both on the scoresheet in an emphatic victory.

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