BRAZIL 2, Zambia 0
Who: Ramires, David Luiz, Oscar
The first two started, while the latter one finished this friendly exhibition and decided the result by scoring the first goal. It was yet another scrumptious long-range effort from Oscar, helped on its parabolic path past the goalkeeper by a slight deflection from a defender. So, if you're counting along, that's one goal and one clean sheet. Ramires, who only played the first 45 minutes goes home without a souvenir.
GHANA 6, Egypt 1
Who: Michael Essien, Christian Atsu
The fifth and final third round qualifier in CAF got under way with everybody expecting a close, tightly-played contest. It turned out however that Egypt had no idea how to defend crosses or set pieces, which eventually devolved into a full-on capitulation in face of the Ghanaian onslaught. Essien played the full 90 and generally bossed proceedings. Atsu came on for the final ten minutes and slammed home Ghana's sixth, pinging his low, long range effort in off Al Shenawy's far post. Atsu's mostly an unknown to me but he was fun to watch in his cameo, which did come against very tired and demoralized legs to be fair.
Players: 5; Goals: 2; Clean sheets: 1
Bulgaria 0, CZECH REPUBLIC 1
Who: Petr Cech
The Czechs were already eliminated, but still managed to play a part by spoiling any chance Bulgaria had left of qualifying. Denmark's 6-0 win over Malta was good enough for second place in the group instead, although not quite good enough to make the playoffs as the Danes ended as the 9th and worst second place team. Cech made four saves on his 105th international appearance to preserve the clean sheet and the morale-raising victory.
Players: 6; Goals: 2; Clean sheets: 2
SERBIA 5, Macedonia 1
Who: Branislav Ivanovic
Ivanovic's clean sheet was ruined in the 83rd minute by some kid named Adis Jahovic who plies his trade in the Ukraine. The Ukraine is not weak! But ManBear is strong, so Adis, better watch your back! Ah, who are we kidding, nobody cared in or about this match.
Players: 7; Goals: 2; Clean sheets: 2
Sweden 3, GERMANY 5
Who: Andre Schurrle
Speaking of not caring, the Swedes and the Germans don't seem to care much for defense lately when they meet on the international stage. After an eight-goal thriller on October 16, 2012, they gifted us another eight-goal thriller on October 15, 2013. Praise the football gods! Best part of this one was André Schürrle's second half, twenty-minute hat trick (I can't decide if I like the first or the third one more). He scored four goals over this international break, following on from his impressive performances in a Chelsea shirt. The boy's clearly in form. Better strike the iron while it's hot! And speaking of hot, the Germans have now scored at least three goals in their last nine matches. Scary good.
Players: 8; Goals 5; Clean sheets: 2
SPAIN 2, Georgia 0
Who: Juan Mata
Mata scores; Spain win; football. No, Mata doesn't get credit for the clean sheet, José.
Players: 9; Goals: 6; Clean sheets: 2
ENGLAND 2, Poland 0
England sealed automatic qualification to the World Cup and avoided a national crisis by dispatching pesky Poland in a match that actually managed to rise past my general cynicism about the English team and prove rather entertaining. As Townsend lit up the Polish left and Baines the Polish right, the two Daniels Welbeck and Sturridge spurned a boatload of chances. But then up popped Wayne Rooney, sans headband, to head England into the lead. Gerrard sealed the deal with a goal late in the second half, but it was a comprehensive and confident performance by England. Gary Cahill played the full 90 and Lampard helped lock down the final twenty. Well done, Three Lions.
Players: 11; Goals: 6; Clean sheets: 3
BELGIUM 1, Wales 1
Belgium dominated but Aaron Ramsey (who seemingly can do no wrong nowadays) and Wales snatched a draw in the last few minutes. Lukaku, De Bruyne, and Courtois all played the entire match, while Eden Hazard got about thirty minutes in the second half. Belgium's goal, unsurprisingly, was fashioned by a pair of Chelsea feet: Lukaku's left chipping the ball over his own head; the onrushing De Bruyne's right finding the bottom of the far corner. Well taken.
Players: 15; Goals: 7; Clean sheet: 3