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The Weekend Round-Up: International Action Under The Spotlight

The Weekend Round-Up: International Action Under The Spotlight

We have been truly spoiled this international break, with World Cup qualifiers aplenty and the Nations League finals to boot. From stunning comebacks to literal fires, it has been an event-filled few days for countries across the continent – who says the international break is dull? With plenty of talking points to sink our teeth into, here’s a look at some of the key moments from this weekend.




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Spain 1-2 France

Les Bleus came from behind to win the second edition of UEFA’s Nations League.

It is the seventh time in 2021 that Didier Deschamps’ side has managed to avoid defeat after initially going a goal down.

After a first-half stalemate, the final burst into life in the second period.

Theo Hernandez saw his effort strike the underside of the crossbar before bouncing onto – but not over – the line.

Spain then broke the deadlock when Sergio Busquets was released by Mikel Oyarzabal, who found the bottom-right corner after 64 minutes.

But France replied immediately with a delightful curling effort from Karim Benzema, that goalkeeper Unai Simon – despite his best efforts – could do nothing about.

With just 10 minutes remaining Les Bleus found the winning goal, thanks to a cool finish from Kylian Mbappe.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was in an offside position as the ball was played through to him, but because defender Eric Garcia got the slightest of touches in an attempt to make an interception, it meant the goal could stand.

Had the Barcelona centre-back not made contact it would have been chalked off – but that proved to be the winning goal, as the reigning world champions picked up some slightly less prestigious silverware.




Andorra 0-5 England

It was a professional performance from England in the Pyrenees, as Gareth Southgate opted against choosing a full-strength side.

The game had looked in doubt just over 24 hours before kick-off, after a fire broke out in the TV gantry at the Estadi Nacional – causing damage to the VAR equipment and the artificial pitch.

But the match was cleared to go ahead, and apart from some slightly charred blades of astroturf, you would hardly have known.

On the pitch, Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka gave the Three Lions a 2‐0 lead at the break, before Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish – from a Sam Johnstone assist – completed a good evening's work.

Scotland 3-2 Israel

A sold-out Hampden Park was bouncing with delight after Scott McTominay’s stoppage-time winner boosted Scotland’s hopes of World Cup qualification.

Eran Zahavi had given the visitors an early lead, but John McGinn levelled things up before the half-hour mark.

However, in a ding-dong encounter, Israel restored their advantage through Mu'nas Dabbur just two minutes later.

Lyndon Dykes brought Steve Clarke’s men level 10 minutes after half-time and it looked like that was how it was going to finish.

That was until McTominay attacked the far post in the 94th minute as McGinn delivered a corner.

The Manchester United midfielder’s gamble paid off, as he had the simplest of tasks to direct the ball home and spark wild scenes in Glasgow.

Scotland are now firmly lodged in second-place in Group F with just three games remaining – next up is a visit to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday.




Azerbaijan 0-3 Republic of Ireland

Stephen Kenny picked up his first competitive win as Republic of Ireland boss thanks to a controlled performance in Baku.

Azerbaijan had held the visitors to a 1-1 draw in Dublin just over a month earlier, but there was little danger of a repeat on Saturday.

Callum Robinson took just seven minutes to open the scoring, before doubling his tally with half-time approaching.

Chiedozie Ogbene added a third late on, to put the Boys in Green within one point of Luxembourg in third place.

Portugal 3‐0 Qatar

Cristiano Ronaldo extended his record international goals tally, as he opened the scoring against Portugal’s opponents from Qatar. 

The 2022 World Cup hosts have been invited to play against Group A teams in the lead up to next year’s finals, with results not counting towards the qualification table.

If they were, the small Gulf state would have eight points to their name – but with nothing on the line, this game proved to be a straightforward win for Fernando Santos’ men.

Jose Fonte and Andre Silva wrapped up the victory on the Algarve, after Ronaldo’s 112th international strike.

Other Results

Northern Ireland lost 2‐0 to Switzerland in a game that was overshadowed by Jamal Lewis picking up a second yellow card in the 37th minute – the Newcastle United man was adjudged to be taking too long on the throw-in, despite the game being goalless at the time.

Italy were 2‐1 winners against Belgium in the third-place Nations League play-off, in a match that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had branded as “useless” in his pre-match media duties. 

The message clearly hadn’t got through to his social media team, however, who tweeted “let’s battle it out for the third place”.


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