Thursday 15 November 2012
A host of Barclays Premier League players were in international action on Wednesday night with 14 on show from the start in England’s 4-2 reverse in Sweden.
Danny Welbeck of Manchester United and debutant Steven Caulker of Tottenham Hotspur were on target as England took a 2-1 lead at the inaugural match at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, but three English-based Swedes – Sebastian Larsson of Sunderland, Martin Olsson of West Bromwich Albion and Fulham’s Alexander Kacaniclic – helped the hosts ruin Steven Gerrard’s 100th appearance for his country as they ended Roy Hodgson’s 12-match unbeaten run.
Hodgson experimented with a youthful side that included an international bow for Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and a first, brief cameo appearance for Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, both players who started out playing in the Premier League’s Kickz project.
The unquestioned start of the show, however, was Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored all four of Sweden’s goal – the last a spectacular overhead kick from 30 yards out that will live long in the memory.
Substitute David Healy came to the rescue for Northern Ireland, who salvaged a FIFA World Cup qualifying group draw at Windsor Park with a 96th-minute equaliser.
Five Premier League players were in Michael O’Neill’s starting line-up including Fulham defenders Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird, West Brom’s Gareth McAuley, Newcastle United’s Shane Ferguson and Southampton’s Steven Davis. West Brom’s Chris Brunt also made a second-half appearance as substitute.
Eight starters from the Premier League were unable to prevent Giovanni Trapattoni’s charges from coming unstuck against Greece in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium, in Dublin. A young side including Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark, Manchester United’s Robbie Brady and James McClean (Sunderland) and James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic) lost to a Jose Holebas goal.
Shane Long (West Brom), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Greg Whelan (Stoke City) and Everton’s Seamus Coleman also played from the start. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich) made his international bow as a half-time substitute.
Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli hit the crossbar with a thunderous shot but ended up on the losing side as the Azzurri succumbed to Mathieu Valbuena’s equaliser and Bafetimbi Gomis’s winner, which was ably assisted by Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra.
Arsenal duo Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud also starred for Les Bleus, whose goal was kept by Tottenham Hotspur's Hugo Lloris.
Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker helped Joachim Low’s side keep a clean sheet against a Dutch side shorn of the injured Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, but Lukas Podolski was powerless to breach a rearguard marshalled by Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar and Everton’s Jonny Heitinga when he came on as a substitute in this Amsterdam friendly.
Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke put Belgium ahead but Romania rallied against the visitors, who included four other players from the English top flight: Marouane Fellaini (Everton), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) and Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata provided an assist as Spain trounced Panama 5-1 in a friendly in Panama City. Liverpool striker Luis Suarez netted Uruguay's final goal as they won 3-1 in Poland, Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner, currently on loan at Juventus, put Denmark ahead from the spot in their 1-1 draw against a Turkey side featuring Liverpool’s Nuri Sahin.
There were also three players from the Premier League in Luxembourg as Scotland edged the hosts thanks to a brace from Blackburn Rovers striker Jordan Rhodes. Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, Steven Whittaker (Norwich City) and Steven Naismith (Everton) started for interim manager Billy Stark.
Russia came back from two goals down to share a 2-2 draw with a United States side featuring Everton’s Tim Howard in goal and Stoke City Geoff Cameron in the back four.
There were also three Barclays Premier League representatives in the Argentina line-up for the goalless stalemate with Saudi Arabia. The Manchester City pair Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero started the match, with Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini helping the Albiceleste keep a clean sheet, while Wigan's Franco Di Santo came on for his debut at half-time.
The Barclays Premier League champions were also represented in Vienna by Kolo Toure and substitute Yaya Toure, who featured in the Ivory Coast’s 3-0 win against Austria, alongside Wigan striker Arouna Kone.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored the only goal for Togo against Morocco. The Tottenham striker warmed up for the north London derby by firing in off the post in the 74th minute of the friendly in Casablanca.