LONDON: Euro 2016 finalists got down to work for the first time this year with the first batch of a string of friendly matches.

Wales led the way by converting a late penalty to draw 1-1 with Northern Ireland in Cardiff.

The visitors, who were looking to make it nine international matches without defeat, went ahead on 60 minutes when Watford centre-back Craig Cathcart drilled in a low shot following a well-worked corner.

However, Wales – missing star Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey – secured an equaliser with just a minute left when substitute Simon Church was tipped by Gareth McAuley to concede a penalty.

The Aberdeen midfielder, on loan from MK Dons, took the spot-kick himself and slammed the ball past goalkeeper Michael McGovern from 12 yards.

An early goal from Watford midfielder Ikechi Anya proved enough to give Scotland a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in Prague.

After the hosts, who have also qualified for the finals in France later this summer, hit the frame of the goal through a free-kick from Borek Dockal, Scotland broke away on 10 minutes when Ross McCormack set up Anya.

Scotland keeper Allan McGregor made a string of fine saves as Gordon Strachan’s men held out for a morale-boosting win ahead of their plans towards the 2018 World Cup campaign.

Italy and Spain cancelled each other out in a 1-1 international friendly draw in Udine.

Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne put the Italians in front on 67 minutes. The lead was short-lived, though, as veteran Athletic Bilbao forward Aritz Aduriz equalised within two minutes.

Elsewhere, Ukraine, who will be in Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 group, beatCyprus 1-0 in Odessa.

Malta, set to face England in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, played out a drab goalless draw against Moldova at the National Stadium, while there were also no goals between Estonia and Norway in Tallinn.

Greece defeated Montenegro 2-1 at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens.

Turkey, in the same group as Spain at Euro 2016, beat Sweden 2-1 at the Antalya Stadium, with a brace from Besiktas forward Cenk Tosun which included a late winner.

Nicolai Jorgensen scored twice early in the second half as Denmark beatIceland 2-1 in Copenhagen