International Round-Up: van Persie Back In Action + Cesc, Theo & More

Arsenal’s International stars were in action for their respective countries tonight and it was the World Cup Qualifiers that became the main talking point of the evening.

Here at Gooner Talk, we look to bring you the latest updates and results on how the Arsenal players are doing for their countries with a brief summary of how they got on.

The following European-based players were in action tonight:

Theo Walcott Belarus v England
Robin van Persie Norway v Netherlands
Cesc Fabregas Belgium v Spain
Johan Djourou Greece v Switzerland
Lukasz FabianskiSlovakia v Poland

Theo Walcott Belarus 1-3 England

Wayne Rooney grabbed a second-half brace as England made it four wins out of four in their World Cup qualifying campaign by beating Belarus 3-1 in Minsk.

After securing three points against Andorra, Croatia and Kazakhstan earlier in Group Six, Fabio Capello’s side now go into the six-month break from qualifying action at the head of the table and in pole position to reach the World Cup Finals in South Africa.

It was a good result but another mixed performance against a side that had beaten Holland and drawn with Turkey, Germany and Argentina in the last 12 months.

Wing wizard Theo Walcott drifted in and out of tonights game and was replaced by Shaun Wright Phillips with 15 minutes remaining. Theo will now return to London Colney and prepare for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Everton.

Robin van Persie Norway 0-1Netherlands

Mark van Bommel scored in the second half Wednesday to give the Netherlands a 1-0 win against Norway in a World Cup qualifier.

Van Bommel scored in the 63rd minute after the home side failed to clear a corner. Dirk Kuyt hit the crossbar just a minute earlier.

“We knew it was going to be a very tough game,” said Netherlands skipper Giovanni van Bronckhorst. “We are very happy with the three points. It gives us a lot of trust and confidence going into the future.”

Norway came out strong after a slow-paced first half and pushed the Dutch back in the first 15 minutes after the break. John Carew had several chances but failed to put the ball past Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar.

The win leaves the Netherlands in first place with three wins in Group 9, while Norway is in fourth place with only two points.

Robin van Persie came on as a second half substitute for Liverpool work-horse forward Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman was brought back into action and didn’t disappoint, creating several opportunities whilst also spreading the play well.

Cesc Fabregas Belgium 1-2 Spain

David Villa scored in the 88th minute Wednesday to extend Spain’s unbeaten run to 27 matches with a 2-1 win over Belgium in a World Cup qualifying match.

Villa used his speed on the rain-soaked field to head in a cross from Daniel Guiza and keep the European champions in first place in Group 5.

In its toughest group match so far, Spain went behind in the seventh minute when Belgium striker Wesley Sonck soared above the defense to head a cross from Vincent Kompany past the wrong-footed Iker Casillas.

The situation got even worse when striker Fernando Torres limped off injured in the 12th. But Andres Iniesta proved Spain’s strength in depth in the 36th, running deep to get to a pass from substitute Cesc Fabegras, weaving past a defender and beating Stijn Stijnen from a near-impossible tight angle.

The draw gave Spain a perfect 12 points from four matches, creating a four-point gap over Turkey, which played to a 0-0 draw in Estonia. Belgium has seven points.

Cesc played out an absoloutely awesome game this evening. The midfield maestro got the ball on the floor and took Belgium apart with his classy footwork and pin-point passing.

Johan Djourou Greece 1-2 Switzerland

A goal in each half from Alexander Frei and Blaise Nkufo helped Switzerland to a welcome 2-1 win and end Greece’s 100 per cent record in World Cup Group Two qualifying on Wednesday.

The win takes Switzerland to seven points, two behind the Greeks who had won their opening three matches.

Frei got the opener from the penalty spot towards the end of a tepid first half after Avraam Papadopoulos upended Valon Behrami in the area.

Angelos Haristeas levelled for the hosts in the 68th minute but Nkufo produced a quality finish 13 minutes from time to round Greek goalkeeper Konstantinos Chalkia and slide the ball into the empty net.

Arsenal defender Johan Djourou was rested after sustaining a nasty gash to the face in midweek for the Swiss.

Lukasz FabianskiSlovakia 2-1 Poland

Stanislav Sestak scored twice in less than two minutes Wednesday to help Slovakia rally for a 2-1 win over Poland in a World Cup qualifying match.

Sestak capitalized on a blunder by Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc to equalize in the 85th minute, and then netted the winner just a minute later after collecting a cross from Jan Kozak that bounced off the post.

Euzebiusz Smolarek had given Poland the lead in the 70th minute, taking a pass from Pawel Brozek and rounding goalkeeper Stefan Senecky before sending the ball into an empty net.

The win gives Slovakia the lead in Group 3 with 10 points from four matches. Poland and Slovenia, which lost 1-0 at the Czech Republic Wednesday, are tied for second on seven points.

Shot stopper Lukasz Fabianski was an unused substitute for Poland.


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