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International round-up: Red mist descends on Serbia and Nemanja Matic

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Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

While I'm not intimately familiar with the footballing history of the nation of Serbia, I may not be wrong if I were to guess that they've never quite had such an unsuccessful qualifying campaign as the one just ended for Euro 2016.  Probably even going back to the Yugoslavia days.

Finishing the campaign with just 4 points, thanks in part to the three-point deduction after the drone-game against Albania, only the likes of Malta, Moldova, San Marino, and Gibraltar collected fewer points throughout qualifying.  Playing for nothing but pride on the final match-day at home against Portugal, what was a decent performance on the day ended in further controversy as both captain Aleksandar Kolarov and vice-captain Nemanja Matic were dismissed in quick succession late in the second half.

By all accounts, it had been a fairly even match, with perhaps the hosts having the better of play as Zoran Tošić's goal canceled out Nani's opener.  But then João Moutinho scored and Serbia lost the plot.  Kolarov was shown a second yellow for dissent, despite having already gotten subbed out, and then Nemanja Matić was shown a straight red for retaliating with a swinging arm/elbow against André André, whom we might remember from the FC Porto loss a few weeks ago.  Not the first time we've seen Matić lose his cool, and perhaps we could even argue that he hasn't quite been the same since the Ashley Barnes incident at the end of February.

On the plus side, it looks like Matić suffered no ill effects from the knock he picked up on Thursday, unlike Branislav Ivanović who had already returned to Chelsea earlier this weekend.

Elsewhere, Kurt Zouma got to play the second half of France's 2-1 friendly win over Denmark while John Obi Mikel played the first hour of Nigeria's impressive 3-0 win over Cameroon in another friendly.  The Chelsea midfielder, playing a more advanced role as he often does for the national team, set up Nigeria's opener with a free kick.