A number of Everton players were in action for their respective countries over the international break, with Gylfi Sigurdsson topping the lot with a much-needed brace yesterday.
Iceland had slipped to a 1-0 defeat away at Finland last week, but got their campaign back on track with a 2-0 win yesterday, with Sigurdsson netting both goals. UEFA’s Group I for the World Cup qualification could not be tighter, with Croatia and Iceland tied at 16 points, with Turkey and Ukraine just behind on 14 points - all teams have just two games left to play, with the winner automatically qualifying for the tournament and the runners-up entering a playoff.
Jordan Pickford was sent back to Everton with a thigh injury while Michael Keane remained on the bench as England virtually sealed their spot in Russia next summer.
Qualification remains a heated battle for Wales who leapfrogged Republic of Ireland in Group D. Serbia remains well ahead of the two and it’s looking more and more likely that either Ashley Williams or Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy will miss out on the world stage. Williams stood firm this weekend as the Welsh kept two clean sheets against Austria and Moldova.
Kevin Mirallas was dropped from the Belgium squad for the Thursday game in anticipation of a deadline day move that never materialized. The winger was an unused substitute as the Belgians became the first European country to book their berth for Russia. Mirallas had better be on his best behaviour if he is going to try and force himself into the reckoning for the talent-laden Red Devils at the World Cup.
Maarten Stekelenburg was an unused substitute as well as the Netherlands were spanked by France before regaining some pride in a win over Bulgaria. Holland are in serious danger of missing out on the competition, and it could come down to the last qualifier where they host Sweden, who are three points ahead of them in the race for a playoff spot in Group A behind France.
Idrissa Gueye’s Senegal side conceded a late equalizer as they drew against group leaders Burkina Faso once again to lose on their own chance to jump ahead in CAF’s Group D. With two games to play, Senegal are in third place two points behind in a winner-takes-all group.
Meanwhile, the England Under-21 team had called up five Evertonians as they started off their European Under-21 Championship qualification with a draw against Netherlands and a win over Latvia.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the lone goal against Holland, assisted by Ademola Lookman. Kieran Dowell and Jonjoe Kenny also featured in that game for the Young Lions. Tom Davies then starred as the youngsters romped to a big win over Latvia, with Calvert-Lewin and Lookman coming on as subs.
Nathan Broadhead came on as a substitute for Wales Under-21 team that beat Switzerland 3-0, before riding the bench as the Welsh lost to Portugal.
Harry Charsley started the game as the Republic of Ireland Under-21 team maintained their 100% record with a win away at Azerbaijan.