After Wednesday night saw a rematch of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final™, the previous four sides to reach the showpiece of the global tournament were in action for the first time since returning from Brazil.
2006 champions Italy and 2010 winners Spain were out to start erasing the memories of a disappointing summer, while, on the contrary, respective opponents Netherlands and France were keen to carry the momentum from positive showings in South America. FIFA.com reviews these and the rest of the day's international friendlies from around the globe.
Match of the day
Italy 2-0 Netherlands
Goals: Immobile 3, De Rossi 10
It was the birth of two new eras for Italy and the Netherlands, with fresh figures patrolling the dugouts. Antonio Conte was taking his first steps in international management with Gli Azzurri – beginning on his old stamping ground of Bari, where he first shot to coaching fame – while Guus Hiddink has seen it all before, taking over the Oranje for the second time after 27 years as a tactician.
You would have been hard pressed to pick out the more experienced coach looking at the opening stages though. It took just three minutes for Conte's reign to spark into life, as Ciro Immobile ghosted in behind Bruno Martins Indi, latching onto Leonardo Bonucci's fine long ball, before skipping around Jesper Cillesen to slot home his first goal for Gli Azzurri.
The former Juventus boss' night got even better – and Hiddink's vastly worse – five minutes later when Martins Indi hauled down debutant Simone Zaza, which earned the FC Porto defender a red card, before captain Daniele De Rossi buried the penalty.
It was one-way traffic throughout the first-half, with the fluid partnership of Immoblie and Zaza threatening to leave the third-placed side from Brazil 2014 with even more to do. Without the injured Arjen Robben, Hiddink's side struggled for an outlet.
After the break Robin van Persie volleyed when he should have at least tested Salvatore Sirigu as the visitors looked improved, but were still second-best. Cillesen remained the busier of the pair as Immobile, Zaza and substitute Mattia Destro all could have scored. With cheers all around at the final whistle, it ended in a more comfortable baptism than Conte surely could have expected.
Spain travelled to France as they looked to regroup after crashing out of the World Cup in the first round, while also losing influential midfielders Xavi and Xabi Alonso, who hung up their boots following the tournament. There was no early redemption for Vicente Del Bosque's men though, as Didier Deschamps quarter-finalists came out on top. First Karim Benzema had a goal ruled out as warning shots were fired, before he and Mathieu Valbuena combined to set-up Loic Remy, securing a 1-0 win for Les Bleus.
Belgium made their return to home soil after reaching the World Cup last eight with a convincing 2-0 victory over Australia. Dries Mertens got the opening goal, slicing his shot over Mat Ryan after Kevin De Bruyne had struck the bar. The Club Brugge goalkeeper had to be on song to keep the scoreline down, only for Axel Witsel to double the score late on.
Sweden cruised to a 2-0 win over Estonia, with captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting both, while there was also a brace for Vedad Ibisevic as Bosnia and Herzegovina cruised to a 3-0 win over Liechtenstein. Mario Mandzukic completed a trio of doubles for the night, with the new Atletico Madrid signing giving Croatia a 2-0 win over Cyprus.
Adam Nemec struck just prior to half-time to earn Slovenia a 1-0 over Malta, but in Belarus things were much less tight, as the hosts beat ten-man Tajikistan 6-1. It was a bad day for sides from the Middle East however, with both Iraq and Jordan losing 2-0 to Peru and Uzbekistan respectively, while China PR beat Kuwait 3-1.
Player of the day
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE)
While Sweden's talisman recently revealed we may be seeing the final couple of years of his career, he continues to offer up gems to remember him by should his time on the field be edging towards a close. The Paris Saint-Germain forward ensured he should live on in the history books at least, clocking up his 50th goal in yellow to overtake Sven Rydall as Sweden's all-time top scorer. It came in typical Ibrahimovic fashion too, with a cheeky heel flick as part of a 21-minute brace against Estonia.
Goal of the day
Belgium 2-0 Australia, Axel Witsel 77
Ryan in the Australian goal had kept the hosts at bay for much of the night, but Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Witsel left him no chance with their second of the night. Great feet from Nacer Chadli saw him carve through the Socceroo's defence from the left flank. He cut it back to the afro-coiffured Belgian, who teed himself up with his right, before slamming home a left-footed half-volley from the edge of the box.
48 – This was all it took in seconds for Ibisevic to open the scoring for Bosnia and Herzegovina against Liechtenstein, becoming the fastest scorer in the national side's history. Collecting the ball from his one-time Hoffenheim team-mate Sejad Salihovic, the man who scored Zmajevi's (The Dragons) first ever World Cup goal slotted past Peter Jehle to claim another place in his country's record books.
China PR 3-1 Kuwait
Uzbekistan 3-0 Jordan
Belarus 6-1 Tajikistan
Slovakia 1-0 Malta
Iraq 0-2 Peru
Sweden 2-0 Estonia
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0 Liechtenstein
Croatia 2-0 Cyprus
Italy 2-0 Netherlands
France 1-0 Spain
Have your say
Which of the returning World Cup sides has the potential to develop most over the next four years and how do you think Conte and Hiddink will fair in their new roles? Just click 'Add your comment' and share your views with us.