International round-up: Week to remember for Gomez, Solanke, Mane and Lovren

Liverpool Crest

The final international break of 2017 ends with two more Liverpool players heading to Russia next June for the World Cup and two more making their international debuts. Here’s the full round-up of how the Reds fared on the international scene in recent days.

England debuts for Gomez and Solanke

Last Friday’s goalless draw between England and Germany will barely merit a mention when the history of this famous fixture is being drafted, but the Wembley snorefest was one that Joe Gomez will remember fondly, with the defender coming on for the injured Phil Jones to make his full England debut. The Liverpool youngster then started Tuesday’s match against Brazil, which also ended scoreless. It was also a special week for his clubmate Dominic Solanke, who scored for England’s under 21s on Friday and was then drafted into the senior England squad by Gareth Southgate for the friendly against Brazil, coming on as a second half substitute to make his debut.

Mane’s Senegal qualify for World Cup

Sixteen years after their sensational run to the World Cup quarter-finals in the Far East, Senegal are back on the biggest stage of them all, with Friday’s 2-0 win in South Africa sealing qualification for next year’s tournament in Russia. Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was booked in Polokwane, but that mattered little as he and his team-mates could celebrate their qualification for the finals. Indeed, the two teams met again four days later in a dead rubber, Senegal recording a 2-1 victory. However, Friday’s game came at a cost for Mane and possibly Liverpool as he suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury which ruled him out for most of October.

Lovren also off to Russia

Croatia will play in their fifth World Cup next summer after they overcame Greece in the play-offs to book their ticket to Russia. Dejan Lovren has had a tough few weeks, but he will have rather enjoyed playing his part in a 4-1 romp in Zagreb. He had another solid, comfortable outing in the return leg in Piraeus, a 0-0 draw that was every bit as dull as the scoreline would suggest. Given his recent struggles, it was pleasing to see Lovren wearing a beaming smile in celebratory team photos after qualification was sealed.

Samba duo rested against Japan but feature at Wembley

If Jurgen Klopp is an exponent of the tradition of sending Christmas cards, there might have been one winging its way to Brazil coach Tite after he left both Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino on the bench for the entirety of their 3-1 friendly win over Japan in Lille, with Neymar, Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus grabbing first half goals. The Liverpool duo were involved, though, in the goalless draw against England on Tuesday, with Coutinho playing up to the midway point of the second half and Firmino coming on for the final quarter of an hour.

Can takes up unusual right-back role

Four days after making a substitute appearance for Germany in the aforementioned goalless draw against England, Emre Can started for the world champions at right-back in their 2-2 draw against France on Tuesday. The Liverpool man played for most of an entertaining match, lasting for 83 minutes until being replaced by Lars Stindl, who scored a late equaliser for the Germans.

Gini and Robertson get 90 minutes

Malky Mackay’s first match in caretaker charge of Scotland ended in a 0-1 defeat at home to Netherlands, who also failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup. Both teams had Liverpool representation, with Andrew Robertson playing at left-back for the Scots and the Dutch midfield containing Georginio Wijnaldum. Both men played the full match, which will do Robertson the world of good given his inexplicable lack of activity at club level. That was Scotland’s only outing in recent days, but Netherlands were back in action on Tuesday night, winning 3-0 away to Romania. However, Klopp will have been happy to see Wijnaldum given the night off by Dick Advocaat.

Woodburn and Ward get starts for Wales

Wales’ first match since missing out on the World Cup saw them beaten 2-0 by a France team which drew high praise from Chris Coleman. Ben Woodburn ended the night with another cap to his name, coming off the bench on 63 minutes to replace Ben Davies, but there was no appearance for Danny Ward on the night, with regular goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey preferred. Coleman rung the changes for Tuesday’s friendly against Panama, though, and both Liverpool players in his squad were given opportunities to start. Ward got a full international match under his belt while Woodburn featured for 71 minutes before making way for Ryan Hedges.

Mignolet keeps clean sheet

Like Ward, Simon Mignolet is restricted to the role of backup goalkeeper for his national side. In a similar tale to the Welshman, though, Liverpool’s number one was given a rare opportunity to start for Belgium on Tuesday night and he kept a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Japan. Mignolet had a watching brief four days earlier when Roberto Martinez’s side drew 3-3 with Mexico.

Solanke scores in England victory

As mentioned near the beginning of this piece, Solanke was parachuted into the England senior squad less than 24 hours after scoring for his country’s under 21 side in a 2-0 win away to Ukraine in the qualifiers for the 2019 European Championships. The Liverpool striker opened the scoring on 16 minutes and was replaced late on by James Maddison, although Trent Alexander-Arnold was unused on the night, with Everton’s Jonjoe Kenny preferred at right-back.

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