International Action Round-Up

Chelsea’s players returned to Cobham today after a week of international action across senior and junior levels and we’ve got it all covered for you in this round-up.

Starting at the very top, John Terry captained England to wins over Bulgaria and Wales which all but secures the Three Lions a place at Euro 2012. He was joined by Ashley Cole in completing both matches as the left-back moved past 90 caps for his country.

Frank Lampard was left on the bench for the trip to Bulgaria but returned to the starting line-up at Wembley on Tuesday night, completing some 75 minutes before making way for Scott Parker.

Spain were amongst four teams to mathematically confirm their berth in Poland and Ukraine next year and they did so with a comprehensive 6-0 rout of minnows Liechtenstein in Logrones. Juan Manuel Mata caught the eye with an impressive assist but Fernando Torres was given the evening off.

The forward had featured as a second half substitute in their friendly win over Chile four days earlier (with Mata taking a rest from action) but failed to find the scoresheet once again.

Also confirming their place at next summer’s showpiece event were the Netherlands, who thrashed San Marino 11-0 before winning 2-0 in Finland. Centre-back Jeffrey Bruma spent the international break with the Oranje squad but didn’t feature in either match.

Florent Malouda’s double-header with France saw Les Blues just about maintain control of Group D but after a less then impressive performance away to Romania the left winger was dropped for the trip to Romania, where Laurent Blanc’s side were held to a goalless draw.

Portugal’s break was a brief one, with just one match on their slate, but Raul Meireles completed 90 minutes in the 4-0 victory over Cypus before making his way to London to join up with his new team-mates for the first time.

Romelu Lukaku and Belgium all but sealed their elimination from Euro 2012 contention with a disappointing 1-1 draw in Azerbaijan during which the powerful forward failed to impress. He was hooked off after an hour and only featured from the bench in their friendly against the United States.

Serbia remain very much in the hunt for a playoff spot behind already-qualified Italy though, making easy work of the Faroe Islands in Belgrade after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland. Branislav Ivanovic played the duration of both at right-back.

David Luiz was the only one of Chelsea’s three Brazilian internationals to be selected in their squad for a friendly with Ghana at Craven Cottage but having only just resumed full training after a foot injury, he was not involved in their 1-0 win. Alex and Ramires remained at Cobham throughout the week along with Petr Cech, who has now almost recovered from his knee injury.

After suffering a concussion against Norwich, Didier Drogba was excused his duties for the Ivory Coast in African Nations Cup qualifiers but Salomon Kalou was on hand to grab the opening goal in their 5-0 demolition of Rwanda. You can see his goal here.

John Obi Mikel had the most travelling to do, first heading to Madagascar with Nigeria in a match the Super Eagles won 2-0 (and Mikel exhibited something of a proficiency at taking free kicks, believe it or not) before travelling to Bangladesh for a friendly with Argentina. As such, he may not feature at Sunderland this coming weekend, only returning today and not training.

There was also a host of action at Under-21 and assorted levels below, but whereas the club has been well represented in Stuart Pearce’s England squads of late, this round of fixtures saw no Chelsea representation.

Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand are now too old to feature whilst Michael Mancienne and Jack Cork both moved on over the summer, leaving Josh McEachran as the sole call-up. However, the midfielder withdrew from the squad with a hamstring problem. With Noel Blake’s Under-19s, Nathaniel Chalobah made his debut in this age group alongside Aziz Deen-Conteh in defence and kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw away to Holland.

Chalobah now has 41 caps for England’s youth teams and as he is yet to even turn 17 is set to shatter all previous records for junior representation.

Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu made his first appearances at Under-21 level in a back to back series against Georgia and was on the winning side on both occasions, 7-2 and 2-0 respectively.

Conor Clifford, meanwhile, was rested for Ireland’s 2-1 win over Hungary ahead of an important away trip to Turkey (where he played 90 minutes), but Noel King’s side lost 1-0 and now trail their victors by six points.

Rhys Taylor was an unused sub for Wales in a 3-1 defeat in Montenegro, whilst Milan Lalkovic’s long trip to Kazakhstan ended in a 1-0 win in which the winger featured from the start and had an impressive outing.

Tomas Kalas was another debutant at Under-21 level, starting at centre-back for the Czech Republic in a 1-1 draw against a good Armenia team.

Finally, if you’re still with us, Philipp Prosenik made a return to international action with 70 minutes for Austria’s Under-19s against Bosnia, whilst Marko Mitrovic netted for Sweden at the same level in a friendly away to Finland.