The Warm-Up: England 5-3 Kosovo, Ronaldo 93-109 Daei
One reads like the first set of a tennis match, the other like basketball. England and Kosovo shared eight goals on Tuesday night, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored four himself, as the international break bowed out in bonkers fashion…
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
‘Are you Scotland in disguise?’
England’s fans chanted said jibe at 5-1 up, but what was originally aimed at Kosovo could easily have been directed at their own team’s shambolic defending at the start and then in the second half at St Mary’s Stadium.
After 35 seconds, Michael Keane gifted Kosovo their opener, and the comparisons to San Marino in 1993 started to ring true when England quickly turned the game around. However, unlike San Marino – who scored after eight seconds against England before losing 7-1 some 26 years ago – Kosovo did not roll over, winning the second-half 2-0 and an army of supporters in the process.
The good for England and their glass-half full fans: Raheem Sterling and his contribution of one goal, two assists, and a pair of boots to one lucky youngster. Jadon Sancho, too, in scoring his first and second senior England goals. Along with Harry Kane, they appear to be the most potent front three at Gareth Southgate’s disposal.
But for those who see the glass half-empty, there was plenty to bemoan. The misplaced passes from Keane and then Declan Rice, the reckless challenge from Harry Maguire. The all-round attitude which screamed out, ‘It’s alright, it’s only Kosovo.’ It genuinely, really, almost, wasn't alright.
With an attack like that, England can win the Euros. With a defence like that, they can dream on.
And so, the England fans among us will find themselves both celebrating their fierce forward line and worrying about their defence throughout Wednesday. Likewise Southgate, whose side remain one of four teams with a 100 per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying, but exposed a few too many weaknesses to their fellow contenders.
Oh, and the replies to this went as well as you would have imagined. A lot of half-empty glasses, it would seem…
Ronaldo nears the 100 Club
A 54th career hat-trick, an eighth on the international stage (one-third of Portugal’s overall tally), a 10th four-goal haul for club and country. Blimey.
- Ronaldo scores four as Portugal coast to victory in Lithuania
- Coman scores again as France beat Andorra 3-0
Cristiano Ronaldo scored goals No 90, 91, 92 and 93 for Portugal in Lithuania on Tuesday night, and while the GOAT debate was unearthed (again) on Twitter, the undisputed fact is that he is seven goals away from 100, meaning he is closing in on another incredible record.
Only one man has membership to the 100-goal club, but even though he is 34, there is every reason to believe Ronaldo will join and then surpass Iran’s Ali Daei, who has 109 to his name.
Ronaldo needs 17 goals to surpass Daei. That’ll take him, what, a couple of years? Maybe three? Or four more games against Lithuania? He’ll do it. You just know he will.
Yemen hold Saudi Arabia in Bahrain
Yemen. War-torn Yemen. Without a domestic league, and playing their international matches in Bahrain, Yemen were up against Saudi Arabia no less in their second World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
It ended 2-2, but this was the beauty from Mohsen Mohammed which put Yemen ahead, and has simply not got enough kudos. If Ronaldo scored this, etc. etc.
IN OTHER NEWS
If you were under a rock, or away from Twitter on Tuesday, this… is something else.
HEROES & ZEROES
Hero: Bernard Challandes
Thanks for the memories Bernard Challandes, and we look forward to seeing you again soon. Fresh from his extraordinary ‘Go! Go! Go!’ comments in his pre-match press conference, the Kosovo coach once more displayed his unnerving ability to flicker between emotions in the St Mary’s tunnel last night…
Zero: Lionel Messi
Mainly because he is rubbish. And also because in his absence – having so woefully carried them to 2008 Olympic gold and thee major finals – Argentina beat Mexico 4-0 with some other lad scoring a hat-trick.
IN THE CHANNELS
TOUCHDOWN – Peru! And in doing so, they beat Brazil 1-0 last night…
Yes, it’s 20 years to the day since United edged Liverpool 3-2 in a fiery encounter, winning at Anfield thanks to two – yes two – own goals from the quality-but-all-too-prone-to-turning-it-into-his-own-net Carragher. Lovely glancing header for the first, too…
"I had to grow up very quickly because I had kids, I had a girlfriend. I literally laid on the floor and started crying. I was like ‘What have I done? I don’t know if I have done the right thing’. But the weirdest thing was I’d go to training and I would be all right."
Banterous club accounts remind you that the BoRIng InTERnaTiOnAl BreaK is now over as domestic football returns this weekend.
Meanwhile, it’s AnDi ThOmAs who brings you the Warm-Up on Thursday…