International Blues [Weds] .....

By Brian Cartlidge
Last updated : 15 October 2009
Blues goalkeeper Maik Taylor and midfielder Damien Johnson were both named in the starting XI for Northern Ireland's final World Cup, Group Three, qualifying game against the Czech Republic.

Taylor completed the full ninety minutes whilst Johnson played for 82 minutes of the game at the Sparta Stadium in which Nigel Worthington's side earned a creditable, if insignificant, 0-0 draw.

Northern Ireland could not have qualified for the finals even if they had won the game in Prague.



Blues midfielder Seb Larsson was named in the starting XI for Sweden's final World Cup, Group One, qualifier against Albania in Stockholm.

Former Aston Villa defender Olof Melberg gave the Swedes the lead after just three minutes and Marcus Berg scored a second for the hosts on forty minutes. Mellberg scored his second of the night and Swedens third three minutes before half time.

Hamdi Salihi reduced the deficit to 3-1 on 57 minutes but Andres Svensson restored the Swedes three goal advantage with just two minutes of the match remaining.

Larsson completed the full ninety minutes of the game but, despite their 4-1 win, Sweden's World Cup dream is over as Malta were beaten 4-0 by Portugal in Lisbon.

Denmark won the group whilst the Portuguese go into the four two-legged play-off matches as one of the eight best group runners-up.



Christian Benitez was selected in the starting XI for Ecuador's World Cup qualifying game against Chile but team-mate Giovanny Espinoza did not make the squad having sustained an injury during the weekend home defeat to Uruguay.

Humberto Suazo scored the only goal of the game for the hosts on 52 minutes.

The 1-0 defeat means Ecuador have missed out on the chance of playing at their third successive World Cup finals. Chile had already secured qualification from the South American zone, their first since France 1998, before Wednesday nights game in Santiago.

Blues striker Benitez completed the whole ninety minutes for Ecuador.



On loan goalkeeper Joe Hart was an unused substitute in England's Group Six World Cup qualifying game against Belarus which ended in a 3-0 win for Fabio Capello's side.

Peter Crouch opened the scoring on four minutes and Shaun Wright-Phillips made it 2-0 to England fourteen minutes into the second half.

Crouch scored his second and England's third goal 15 minutes from the end of normal time.

England had already qualified for next years finals prior to this game at Wembley.



On loan midfielder Teemu Tainio was once again ruled out of the Finland squad who drew 1-1 against Germany in Hamburg. Tainio picked up a knee injury during training last Friday which had also seen him miss his country's home win against Wales last Saturday.

The result saw Germany finish top of the Group Four table with the Finns finishing in third spot.

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