Internationals. Qualifiers. Friendlies. Fun.
Three out of four ain't bad?
Hey, at least none of Liverpool's players came out of the first round of distractions with any knocks they didn't go in with…
Bulgaria v. England
England kicked another puppy around to the cheers of the press and have now clinched a top two finish in their group—first gets you into the Euros automatically, while runners-up get to head to a playoff. Andy Carroll, about the only Liverpool player fans would have been happy to see get a run-out, spent the entire match on the bench. Stewart Downing, meanwhile, started and went the full ninety, putting on a generally impressive display and at one point hitting the post with a header as England cruised to a 3-0 victory over Berbatov's Bulgaria.
Netherlands v. San Marino
Dirk Kuyt got 74 minutes for Holland, and registered a goal and an assist in that time. Which is really a rather disappointing total for an attacker when your side obliterates the opposition 11-0. As for San Marino, having played eight of ten qualifying matches without registering a single point or goal for, it's safe to say the microstate of 30,000 isn't going to break its history of futility and qualify for the Euros this time around. Oh, and the Netherlands have now clinched first in their group.
Wales v. Montenegro
Wales, meanwhile, kept their insanely slim dreams of qualification alive with an upset victory over Montenegro. Bellamy had a lively match on the flanks, and Wales went home with their first points of the round to sit eight back of second place Montenegro with three matches to go in the group led by England. Given they lost the first match against the second place side and are far behind when it comes to goal differential, even another draw for Montenegro would seal their fate now, but for the time being Welsh hopes remain mathematically alive.
Republic of Ireland v. Slovakia
Martin Skrtel helped his country keep a clean sheet against the Republic of Ireland, playing the full 90 of a 0-0 draw that sees Ireland and Slovakia remain tied on points behind Russia. Right now the Republic of Ireland are ahead of Slovakia on goal differential, but in the wide open Group B any of Russia, the Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, or the unexpectedly strong Armenians could all still finish anywhere in the top four.
Scotland v. Czech Republic
Adam came off while Scortland was a goal to the good and just after Danny Wilson made his way onto the pitch in place of Phil Beardsley. Then it all went wrong for Liverpool's young defender, with the Czech Republic's Jan Rezek feeling contact in the final minute of the ninety and eagerly going to ground to earn his side a penalty and the draw—a draw that sees Scotland just about dead in the water at third in Group I, five points behind the Czechs with two games to go. And one of those two is against group leaders Spain.
Ukraine v. Uruguay
Moving on to the two friendlies with Liverpool connections, Uruguay—with Coates starting on the bench behind Diego Lugano and the now healthy Godin—kicked off their friendly against Ukraine rather ignominiously by conceding in the first minute. Coates finally saw some action after 73 minutes, with the score level 2-2 and the South Americans set to secure a 3-2 comeback victory at the end of the day. In what will leave Liverpool fans somewhat less than pleased, Luis Suarez played a full 90 minutes for country after not having yet managed a similar feat at club level since returning from the summer's Copa America. Fortunately, however, this is Uruguay's one and only match of the break, which will hopefully mean a few extra days off for Suarez.
Chile v. Spain
Reina replaced Casillas at the half with Spain trailing 2-0 in a chippy game held in Switzerland, with Chile hopping on the bandwagon of South American countries playing their home friendlies in stadiums around Europe. The Liverpool keeper then oversaw a comeback victory, as Spain went on to win 3-2. Spain probably passed it around a bit along the way.
Brazil v. Ghana kicks off from Craven Cottage at 7:45GMT/2:45EST on Monday before the second round of Euro qualifiers begin on Tuesday, and for those who actually are interested in just where their countries stand, by the time that next round ends most of the remaining qualification questions will likely be settled.