Quick Roundup of Gunners on International Duty
After the first phase of international fixtures, there were no broken Arsenal bones (thankfully) and it was a round of fixtures from an Arsenal perspective as some of Arsene Wenger’s players hit top gear for their respective nations.
Starting with Wembley, the back page-grabbing Jack Wilshere started the crunch clash against Montenegro from the bench as the old guard of Frank Lampard and captain, Steven Gerrard manned the midfield positions. After a nervy first half, England grabbed the lead through Shrek and an own goal from Branko Boscovic put the Three Lions two goals to the good but Dejan Damjanovic pulled one back for the visitors and nerves started tingling.
Andros Townsend stepped up the plate with a brilliant long-range missile and Daniel Sturridge wrapped things up with a coolly-taken penalty. Wilshere came in with 10 minutes to go and had no real influence on the game.
In Germany, Joachim Loew and his Machines were in party mood as they sealed their qualification to the 2014 World Cup with a resounding victory over Ireland.
Ireland’s goalie, David Forde, made a series of superb saves but the weren’t enough as the Germans were rampant in front of their home fans. The Germans got the lead when Stokes pass was intercepted by Phillip Lahm that made a bursting run before feeding Sami Khedira. The holding midfielder blasted a shot that deflected off Ciaran Clark past a hapless Forde in goal. The Germans doubled their money when Toni Kroos’ threaded pass was met by Andre Schurrle that beat the offside trap before firing it past Forde.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil capped his 50th international appearance with an impudent chip over a grounded Forde to make it three.
In Denmark, Nicklas Bendtner hit the headlines for all the right reasons as he scored a double that wasn’t enough to give the Danes all three points against Italy.
The Italians grabbed the lead when Southampton’s Pablo Osvaldo went in behind the defense to fire in a curling effort that went past Stephan Andersen in goal. Danish sweetheart, Bendtner, who was returning from a six-month ban following a drunk driving incident, leaped the highest to head the ball past the legendary Gianluigi Buffon in goal.
Late in the game, Bendtner showed his aerial prowess yet again with another header but his elation was cut short after he received a booking for removing his jersey. Right at the death, Italy salvaged a draw through an Alberto Aquilani shot that has further diminished Denmark’s chance of qualifying for a playoff spot.
Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Thomas Vermaelen all observed their games from the bench as Poland’s little hopes of qualifying for the World Cup was thrown into the wind when an Andriy Yarmolenko strike was more than enough for Ukraine to grab all three points while Everton’s Romelu Lukaku was in hot form as his double against Croatia sealed World Cup qualification for the Belgian national team.
Aaron’s Ramsey’s Wales had ensured a rather difficult qualifying campaign but they were all smiles last night as Simon Church’s strike earned them all three points against FYR Macedonia. Barclay’s Premier League’s September Player of the Month, Aaron Ramsey, had a chance to score another goal for his nation while wielding the captain’s arm band but he missed rather unfortunately.
Nacho Monreal got 45 minutes under his belt as Spain grabbed themselves a 2-1 victory over Belarus. After some amazing tiki taka, Xavi Hernandez got the match opener and Spain doubled their lead through an Alvaro Negredo diving header. Sergey Kornilenko scored what proved to be a consolation goal.
Finally, Olivier Giroud was in inspired form as France demolished Australia 6-0, which cost the manager, Holger Osieck, his job.
The Socceroos have conceded an astonishing 19 goals in four international games and the FA felt it was high time someone else gets the job. Right from the go, David Carney was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box following an aerial duel with Loic Remy and Franck Ribery wasted no time in dispatching his penalty past debutant, Mitch Hangelak, in goal.
Ribery turned from scorer to provider when he teed up Giroud and the striker justified his start ahead of Karim Benzema with a deft inch-perfect chip over the hapless goalie.
Giroud quickly added a second and France’s third when he latched unto Nasri’s cut back to slot the ball past Hangelak.
Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye was afforded a glimpse at goal and he punished the Aussies with a blasted shot that went past the goalie to make it 4-0 with just 29 minutes gone. In the second half, strikes from Matt Debuchy and Benzema completed the rout and the visiting manager packed his bags afterwards.
All in all, it was a great night of European football and I can only hope for the player to return for the Norwich game unscathed.
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