By Lee Savery
A busy night of games with a number of our team playing for their countries as the race to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil continues.
Starting with England, all four Manchester United players (Carrick, Cleverley, Rooney & Welbeck) called up started against the very poor San Marino. It had been confirmed, before the game, that Wayne Rooney would captain the side for the first time in his career. It was the skipper who started the scoring from the penalty spot after Welbeck was fouled after 35 minutes. Three minutes later, Welbeck back-flicked in the second. A ferocious finish from Rooney before another tap-in for Welbeck put England 4-0 up in the second half. Surprisingly, their brace each was their first goals of the season.
Michael Carrick & Tom Cleverley easily dominated the midfield and moved the ball around very well. Cleverley picked up two assists after first setting up Welbeck before some nice footwork allowed him to set up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who added England’s fifth on an easy night for the Three Lions.
Elsewhere, Darren Fletcher made his international return for Scotland, as captain, in Cardiff as Wales came from behind to beat them 2-1. Fletcher sat in midfield just ahead of the defence and looked tidy but there was nothing he could do as his side fell to a late Gareth Bale brace.
Youngster Robbie Brady came on for the last six minutes for the Republic of Ireland but the game was very much over by the time he arrived. Ireland lost 6-1 to Germany in Dublin.
For Portugal, Nani played all 90 minutes as they lost 1-0 against Russia. He was one of Portugal’s biggest threats but he was unable to help his team get back from a goal down.
Elsewhere in Europe, France played Japan in a Friendly in Paris where Shinji Kagawa scored the only goal of the game converting a cross after a swift counter-attack in the 89th minute. Patrice Evra was an unused substitute for the home side. Another unused substitute on the night was Robin van Persie, for the Netherlands, as they ran out comfortable winners against Andorra.
Outside of Europe, Javier Hernandez was involved in three of Mexico’s five goals as they thrashed Guyana. First of all laying off a pass, after being played through on goal, to allow Peralta to score an easy finish. Chicharito’s second involvement was a bizarre one as he turned inside the penalty box only to find the Guyana defender Chris Nurse who tried to clear the ball out of the box but ended up putting the ball in his own net. The United man finally got one of his own, six minutes from time, as he headed in from close range.