Wednesday 12 September 2012
Scores of Barclays Premier League players were in FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying action again on Tuesday night as the Netherlands, France and Serbia registered comfortable wins, while England, Belgium and Scotland were held to 1-1 home draws.
Tottenham Hotspur's new goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved a penalty but could not prevent the follow-up as France registered a 3-1 success against Belarus.
Les Bleus, now coached by former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps and including Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra, Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye and Arsenal's summer signing Olivier Giroud, finally overcame their bogey team at the third time of asking to maintain their 100% record in qualifying. Abou Diaby was unable to play for France through injury and is reported to be a doubt for Arsenal's match with Southampton on Saturday.
Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar were in the Netherlands lineup that sealed a convincing 4-1 victory against a Hungary outfit captained by West Bromwich Albion midfielder Zoltan Gera, although the former Arsenal striker was withdrawn at half-time as a precautionary measure after complaining of a thigh problem and may be doubtful for United's encounter with Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Evra's club-mate Nani was also on the winning side as Portugal gave Azerbaijan short shrift with a routine 3-0 victory. A Serbia side captained by Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic were even more impressive as they put six goals past Wales's West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
Both Ivanovic and Manchester City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov were on target in Novi Sad as Tottenham's Gareth Bale provided the consolation goal for a side also including Reading's Chris Gunter, Swansea City's Ashley Williams, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, Liverpool's Joe Allen and Steve Morison of Norwich City.
It was also plain sailing for a Bosnia and Herzegovina side including Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who sealed a 4-1 success against Latvia with the help of an added-time goal by Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko.
Spain and Germany made harder work of their victories in Georgia and Austria respectively. Vicente del Bosque brought on Arsenal's summer signing Santi Cazorla as a second-half replacement for Manchester City's David Silva as the world and European champions snatched a late winner through Roberto Soldado, while Cazorla's club-mate, Lukas Podolski, also played a cameo role in Germany's 2-1 win in Vienna.
The England first XI that welcomed Ukraine to Wembley all hailed from the Barclays Premier League but Roy Hodgson's side required an 87th-minute penalty from Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard to salvage a point against lively visitors who took the lead through Yevgen Konoplianka's spectacular first-half strike.
Danny Welbeck, of Manchester United, made a bright second-half appearance striking a post in the second half before his late shot was handled in the penalty area. England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence.
Scotland and Belgium both had to battle back after conceding early goals. Queens Park Rangers forward Jamie Mackie teed up Kenny Miller's second-half equaliser for a home side featuring West Brom's James Morrison, Wigan Athletic's Gary Caldwell and Aston Villa's Alan Hutton. There were even more representatives from English football's top tier in the Belgium side that took on Croatia in Brussels.
Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen, Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany of Man City were unable to prevent Ivan Perisic from beating Chelsea's on-loan Thibaut Courtois, while Eden Hazard, also of Chelsea, Mousa Dembele, also of Tottenham, and second-half substitute Kevin Mirallas, proved unable to carve out a winner against a side including Mirallas's Everton club-mate Nikica Jelavic.
Manchester United defender Jonny Evans shrugged off an ankle injury to be one of seven Premier League representatives for Northern Ireland against Luxembourg, but they experienced frustration as they were pegged back by an 87th-minute Daniel De Mota equaliser in a 1-1 draw in Belfast.
A Norway side captained by Brede Hangeland were grateful to the Fulham defender's club-mate John Arne Riise, who struck a 94th-minute penalty to secure a 2-1 success against Slovenia.
Liverpool's Martin Skrtel was also on the winning side as Slovakia overcame Liechtenstein 2-0 while West Brom's Jonas Olsson and Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson helped Sweden to the same result against Kazakhstan.
Arsenal defender Johan Djourou also celebrated a 2-0 success for Switzerland at the expense of Albania but it was an evening to forget for Israel and West Ham United's Yossi Benayoun and for Iceland and Tottenham's Gylfi Sigurdsson, who were on the wrong end of 4-0 and 1-0 scorelines respectively handed down by Russia and Cyprus.
Manchester United striker Javier 'Chicarito' Hernandez headed in the only goal of the game as Mexico became the first side to reach the final round of CONCACAF qualifying with a victory against a Costa Rica side including Arsenal's on-loan striker Joel Campbell.
The United States, meanwhile, avenged their 2-1 defeat by Jamaica at the weekend with a 1-0 success in Columbus. Herculez Gomez's winner ten minutes from time sealed the narrow victory for a side containing Tottenham's Clint Dempsey, Stoke's Geoff Cameron and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. Reading's Adrian Mariappa featured from the start for the visitors.
Norwich City's Simeon Jackson tasted defeat as his Canada side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Panama, while there were mixed fortunes for Wigan defenders Maynor Figueroa and Antolin Alcaraz as the former helped Honduras keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win against Cuba while the latter was in the Paraguay side beaten 2-0 by Venezuela.
Also in the South American section, Manchester United's Antonio Valencia was dismissed in added time for a second bookable offence during Ecuador's 1-1 draw in Uruguay. Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Southampton's new signing from Bologna, Gaston Ramirez, both played from the start for the hosts.
The Republic of Ireland also enjoyed a comfortable win as Manchester United winger Robbie Brady gave an impressive debut in the 4-1 victory against Oman at Fulham's Craven Cottage. The 20-year-old scored one and set up two more and, but for the heroics of Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, the hosts might have won by even more. West Brom's Shane Long, Kevin Doyle and Reading's Alex Pearce also scored for Giovanni Trapattoni's men.