Soccer: Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega scored and Argentina extended its unbeaten record against Italy to four matches with a 2-1 victory over the Azzurri, while Brazil was handed a 1-0 loss by Switzerland in another friendly Wednesday in Rome.
Brazil’s 11-match unbeaten run came to an end as Dani Alves scored an own goal with a header into the top-left corner.
Playing without Lionel Messi, Argentina defended well and was in control most of the time in a match dedicated to Pope Francis. Higuain put Argentina in front in the 20th minute and Banega doubled its lead four minutes into the second half before Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back with his first goal for Italy.
At Belfast, in the only World Cup qualifier played Wednesday, Martin Paterson’s first-half goal gave Northern Ireland a surprise 1-0 win over Russia, preventing Fabio Capello’s team from leapfrogging Portugal at the top of Group F.
In other high-profile matches, Rickie Lambert celebrated his England debut in style at the age of 31, scoring the winner in a 3-2 win over Scotland, Germany salvaged a 3-3 draw at home against Paraguay, Mexico topped Ivory Coast in East Rutherford, N.J., 4-1 and France ended a three-game losing streak by drawing 0-0 with Belgium.
Timberwolves sign center Pekovic
Basketball: The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to terms on a five-year deal with restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic.
Pekovic posted career highs with 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 62 games last season for the Timberwolves. The 27-year-old will return to team with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio for a promising young core in Minnesota.
• 76ers make it official: The Philadelphia 76ers have hired Spurs assistant Brett Brown to replace Doug Collins, who resigned in April.
The deal was completed earlier in the week, and Brown was officially introduced as the 24th head coach in franchise history on Wednesday. Brown is the eighth coach to lead the Sixers since Larry Brown left in 2003.
Brett Brown was part of three NBA title teams with San Antonio. The 52-year-old Brown was an assistant under Gregg Popovich since 2002. He also coached the Australian men’s national team from 2009-12, and played a key role in helping Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker develop into All-Stars with the Spurs.
• Wizards sign Harrington: The Washington Wizards have signed veteran forward Al Harrington.
The Wizards are Harrington’s seventh NBA team as he enters his 16th season. He’s averaged 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 947 career games.
Harrington played in only 10 games with the Orlando Magic last season because of a right knee injury.
• Pacers fill out coaching staff: The Indiana Pacers hired Popeye Jones as an assistant coach.
Adding the 43-year-old ex-NBA player gives the Pacers a full staff. Indiana lost Brian Shaw to Denver and Jim Boylen to San Antonio earlier this summer. Coach Frank Vogel hired former NBA head coach Nate McMillan to replace Shaw.
Jones spent the last three seasons with the Nets, the first year in player development and the last two as an assistant coach. He worked for Dallas in player development the previous three seasons.
Rodgers advances in U.S. Amateur
Miscellany: Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers survived a playoff to advance to match play, then beat Sean Dale 3 and 2 of Jacksonville, Fla., in the first round of the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Rodgers, the 21-year-old Avon, Ind., player who will represent the U.S. next month in the Walker Cup, will face England’s Greg Eason. Eason beat 2012 runner-up Michael Weaver of Fresno, Calif., 3 and 2.
Qualifying medalists Brady Watt of Australia and Neil Raymond of England advanced on the windy day. Brady topped Gonzaga’s Sean Walsh 5 and 3, and Raymond edged Jason Anthony of Fairfeld, Calif., 1 up.
Walsh won a spot in the match play by getting through a 17-player playoff for 15 spots earlier in the day.
• Heffernan wins 50k walk: Robert Heffernan of Ireland pulled away in the last 10 kilometers to win the gold medal in the 50-kilometer walk at the world championships in Moscow.
The race began shortly after an early-morning storm and finished in warm sunshine 3 hours, 37 minutes, 56 seconds later, the time it took Heffernan to cover the grueling distance. He was fourth at last year’s Olympics.
Mikhail Ryzhov of Russia took the silver, 1:02 behind, and Jared Tallent of Australia, silver medalist at the past two Olympics, had to settle for bronze, 2:07 back.