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On a busy Friday around the globe, eight Liverpool players found their way into qualifying action in their respective competitions, with most experiencing some measure of success and only one quasi-injury concern.
England U21 1, Serbia U21 0
With Andre Wisdom sent home for recovery, Jonjo Shelvey promoted to the senior squad, and Jack Robinson a late call-up, the only names that seemed certain to feature for Stuart Pearce's U21s were Jordan Henderson, who's captained the side for a long time, and Raheem Sterling, whose form in the early Premier League season has made him one of the more promising youngsters in the national team setup. Both ending up starting, with Henderson turning in a full shift and Sterling playing 65 minutes. They managed to impress in their respective roles; Sterling settled in after a few shaky moments early to cause some problems on both flanks, and Henderson took a few more risks and longer passing chances than we've seen for Liverpool but was very, very good as they rode a Craig Dawson spot-kick after questionable penalty on Adam Smith to victory. They'll have the second leg on Tuesday in Serbia to get through before the finals, though, and it's likely that both Henderson and Sterling (and possibly Shelvey) will play a part then as well.
Turkey 0, Romania 1
There wasn't a starting spot for Nuri Sahin in the Turkish midfield, but he made an appearance in the final ten minutes as the hosts chased an equalizer. Romania took the lead in first half injury time and survived a late, late chance from Turkey that Sahin headed just over. The win was the visitor's third straight to Group D play and leaves them level on points with favorites Holland, while Sahin and Turkey slipped to their second loss of qualifying.
Bulgaria 1, Denmark 1
All the action in Sofia took place in the first half--Bulgaria opened the scoring with a Dimitar Rangelov goal inside the first ten minutes, and an Ivan Bandalovski red card on 26 minutes left them with only ten men for over hour. Nicklas Bendtner leveled the match just five minutes before halftime, but neither side could convert their second half chances to get all three points. Daniel Agger played the full match for the Danes, who now have two points from their first two matches and have a trip to Italy on Tuesday to face the group leaders.
Belarus 0, Spain 4
As expected, no action for Pepe Reina in the Spanish victory in Belarus, in which they scored two goals either side of the break and got a hat-trick from Pedro to continue their perfect start to qualifying. They'll have their first real test on Tuesday when they welcome France to Madrid.
Slovakia 2, Latvia 1
Martin Skrtel's Slovakian side got their second consecutive home win over Latvia, with both goals arriving only ten minutes after the opening whistle. The visitors got one back on a penalty with just over five minutes left to play, but the hosts saw out the rest of the match to get all three points. I wasn't able to see much of this one, but heard that Skrtel needed help coming off, and the offal's got it noted that he came off after "picking up a knock." Eek.
Wales 2, Scotland 1
Two Gareth Bale goals in the final ten minutes--one a penalty after a tremendously awful dive, the other on a strike that was just sort of tremendous--gave Wales their first win of qualifying and allowed them to leapfrog Scotland in Group A. Joe Allen played the full ninety in Chris Coleman's first win as the Welsh manager, and they'll now head to Croatia to face the co-leaders on Tuesday.
England 5, San Marino 0
It wasn't a breeze until after Jonjo Shelvey came on in the 65th minute, with the hosts only up 2-0 on San Marino, which was likely down to a number of factors rather than just the introduction of the 20 year-old midfielder. He was very good, however, and after his introduction they scored three more goals as Shelvey managed to make an argument for sticking around with the older squad rather than heading straight back to the U21s. With Steven Gerrard coming back that might be unlikely, but it was a lively and effective performance from Shelvey, and one that Roy Hodgson will have been pleased with.
Argentina 3, Uruguay 0
Not a great nightcap for Luis Suarez and Uruguay as two Leo Messi goals sandwiched a Kun Aguero strike, giving Argentina a comprehensive 3-0 win. Sebastian Coates didn't feature, and while Suarez had his predictably wonderful moments of brilliance, Uruguay couldn't find a goal and conceded all three of Argentina's within a 15-minute stretch of the second half. By the time Messi got his second there were only ten minutes left, and now they'll have to find a result on Tuesday in the challenging altitude of La Paz against hosts Bolivia.