Gael and Samir’s World Cup joy
- 19 November 2013 21:58
- Posted by @porter_mcfc & @markbooth_mcfc
Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy’s France secured qualification for World Cup 2014 with a stunning 3-2 aggregate win over Ukraine at the Stade de France.
Although both City players were unused substitutes on the night for the second-leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against Ukraine, they were at the heart of the celebrations after France’s remarkable turnaround.
Les Bleus were hoping to come back from their 2-0 defeat in Donetsk and they got off to the perfect start, with Mamdou Sakhou halving their deficit after 22 minutes.
Throughout the first-half, the Ukraine goal led a charmed life with only a few examples of great goalkeeping and last ditch defending preventing the equaliser – that was until Karim Benzema pounced to level the tie after 33 minutes with a precise finish from close range.
France’s task was made easier two minutes into the second-half when Yevhen Khacheridi was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
They were made to wait until the 73rd minute for the decisive goal and it was Liverpool’s Sakho who provided it, steering in from close range to start the party in Paris.
Elsewhere, Costel Pantilimon was an unused substitute in Bucharest where Romania failed to overturn their 3-1 first-leg deficit against Greece.
On the night, Romania managed to draw 1-1 with the Euro 2004 winners, but they were always facing an uphill task after Konstantinos Mitroglou’s away goal for the visitors in the 24th minute.
A Torisidis own goal levelled the match on the night but Greece secured qualification with a 4-2 aggregate win over Pantilimon’s nation.
"Portugal and Croatia tied up the two other European World Cup play-off berths at the expense of Sweden and Iceland respectively."
...mcfc.co.uk international round-up...
At Wembley, Joe Hart was unfortunate to be on the losing side after an excellent performance in England’s 1-0 defeat to Germany.
It was Hart’s first appearance in a competitive game since City’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on 27 October in this showpiece friendly to celebrate 150 years of the English FA and he was a relative spectator for the majority of the first-half.
When he was finally called into meaningful action after 37 minutes, he pulled off a quite incredible save to deny Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker, flinging himself to the bottom left corner of the goal and using his fingertips to flick the header wide of the target.
However, there was nothing Joe could do when the same player rose to meet a cross from Toni Kroos a minute later and headed it powerfully into the other corner.
England could consider themselves unfortunate to be behind at the break, but Hart was required again shortly after half-time, spreading himself well to block Marco Reus’s goalbound effort.
"Hart made another exceptional save after 65 minutes when he got down with a firm hand to turn away Mario Goetze’s low shot destined for the bottom corner."
...England v Germany...
Andros Townsend hit the post and England had another couple of half-chances to level the game but were ultimately consigned to their second successive defeat at Wembley.
James Milner was an unused substitute for Roy Hodgson’s side.
Elsewhere, World Cup holders Spain returned to the scene of their greatest triumph but suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to South Africa.
It was the first time Vincente Del Bosque’s men have played at Johannesburg’s Soccer City since winning the World Cup final against the Netherlands there in 2010 but there was no place for Jesus Navas or Alvaro Negredo in the first XI.
Surprisingly, Brian Parker opened the scoring for the hosts after 56 minutes, prompting Del Bosque to introduce both Negredo and Navas in the 57th and 62nd minute respectively.
Despite this increased firepower, the world and European champions could not find an answer to Parker’s strike, so when Khune kept out Raul Albiol's toe-poked effort in the last minute of stoppage time, it meant that Spain were defeated in their final game of 2013.
"Earlier in the day, Sergio Aguero struck twice as Argentina ran out 2-0 victors over Bosnia and Herzegovina in St Louis."
...Argentina v Bosnia...
There was plenty of vocal support for the Bosnians from spectators in St Louis, and the defence proved resolute as Alejandro Sabella's men attempted to break the deadlock.
It took Sergio 40 minutes to open the scoring, slamming the ball home after Begovic had come off his line in an attempt to claim it.
His second arrived midway through the second period, his left foot connecting with a beautiful arching pass from Maxi Rodriguez to guide the ball into net for his and Argentina's second of the game.
On another night, he might have had a hat-trick - the striker ballooned an easy finish high over the bar after Palacio's shot rebounded off Begovic.
Dzeko and Zabaleta both played 90 minutes each, and the Bosnian Diamond had his own chances to get on the scoresheet, blocked off in the box after a good run on the ten minute mark, and smacking a long range shot to test Romero as the final whistle approached.
Meanwhile in Malmo, John Guidetti played for 60 minutes in his first international appearance since making his senior debut for the national team in February 2012.
This time, the former Feyenoord loanee was lining up for the under-21 selection for their UEFA u21 Championship qualifier against Malta at the Swedbank Stadion.
Guidetti nearly got his comeback match off to the perfect start after three minutes but his powerful volley from close range was deflected a foot over the crossbar.
The 21-year old played a pivotal role in a dominant start from the home side and he didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock, opening the scoring after 11 minutes with a trademark lash across the goalkeeper from the edge of the penalty area.
Viktor Claessen added a second before Guidetti managed to double his tally after 26 minutes with another neat finish from close range from a rebound after a good save from the Maltese goalkeeper.
"Encouragingly, the City striker showed no ill effects from his lengthy injury lay-off and was close to completing a first-half hat-trick after 31 minutes but his stinging volley was turned away by a fine save from Jurgen Borg."
...Sweden u21s v Malta u21s...
Branimir Hrgota made it four after 33 minutes with a deflected free-kick and Christoffer Nyman added a fifth after 69 minutes to complete a resounding victory.
That result moves Sweden closer to Group 7 rivals Poland, Greece and Turkey.
Finally, Matija Nastasic played 90 minutes for Serbia u21s as they recorded a surprise 1-0 win over Italy in Gornji Milanovac – a result which sees them move to within two points of the Azzurri.