Football News

Six things you might have missed from today’s international football

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:00, 16 October 2023

The October international break is in its final stages.

Right now, at least when it comes to Europe, qualifying for next summer’s championship in Germany is on the agenda. We are now at the point where teams are booking their spot at Euro 2024, but there’s plenty of action outside the continent.

Seeing as there are multiple games played today, it’s easy to miss important or memorable events. But don’t worry – Squawka is here, with six things you might have missed.

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1. A fourth Euro awaits Das Team

And the eighth nation to confirm their participation at Euro 2024 is Austria, who ran out 1-0 winners in Azerbaijan this evening. Marcel Sabitzer, who spent last season briefly on loan at Manchester United, scored the all-decisive goal from 12 yards three minutes after halftime.

Progression was inevitable given how ahead of the competition in Group F they and Belgium were; both are locked on 16 points with Ralf Rangnick’s side needing to play one more game. Prior to Euro 2028, when they co-hosted with Switzerland, the Austrians had never featured in a European Championship it’s now four appearances in the past five editions.

2. All square in North African derby

Meetings between Algeria and Egypt are few and far between with tonight being just their 25th showdown ever.

Always guaranteed to be a heated affair, this clash at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain was no different and it featured plenty of familiar names on either side. Sofiane Feghouli, Riyad Mahrez and Saïd Benrahma started for The Fennec Foxes while Mohamed Elneny, Trézéguet and Mohamed Salah were on The Pharaohs‘ starting lineup.

Al Ahly defender Mohamed Hany would see red in the 26th minute but Rui Vitória’s men went ahead through Mostafa Fathi after the hour mark. However, just when it seemed victory was in their hands, second-half substitute Islam Slimani registered a 93rd-minute equaliser.

3. Streak ends for The Blue and Yellow

Janne Andersson has been in charge of Sweden since 2016 and, given the events of this evening, his reign should be coming to an end. Not long ago the 61-year-old tactician said that if Sweden failed to reach Germany next summer he would step down. His worst fears came to pass, with Austria sealing the second Euro 2024 ticket in Group F and Belgium having already taken the other. This failure ended a consistent presence at the European Championship with Euro 1996 being the last time Sweden missed out.

4. No mercy from Ronaldo and company

Portugal sealed their place at Euro 2024 last time out, but if you thought Roberto Martinez and his side were going to ease off, think again, especially with a perfect record on the cards. The 2016 winners came into this final qualifier in Bosnia with seven wins from seven while conceding only two goals (which came against Slovakia last time out when they ran out 3-2 winners).

Sealing maximum points was the brief and Martinez flexed Portugal’s strength in depth by recalling João Félix, Otávio, Danilo Pereira and Gonçalo Inácio to his starting lineup. Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes started and both got on the scoresheet with Ronaldo registering a brace.

This means he’s now scored at least 100 goals in three different decades (2000’s – 206, 2010’s – 550 and 2020’s – 102). He is only the sixth player to do so, alongside Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Pele, Romario and Lionel Messi.

Barcelona duo João Cancelo and Felix were also on hand against the hapless Bosnians.

5. Van Dijk breaks Vlachodimos resolve

Qualification for Euro 2024 remains in the Netherlands’ hands, but Ronald Koeman would have preferred a momentum-winning outing in Athens this evening. Days following another loss to France, the Dutch were frustrated in the Greek capital by Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, who saved a Wout Weghorst penalty before denying Steven Bergwijn from close range early into the second half.

Vlachodimos ultimately made no fewer than five saves but deep into stoppage time he couldn’t produce lightning for the second time as Virgil van Dijk broke his resolve from 12 yards. Following this hardfought 1-0 win, Greece — who have been led by Gus Poyet since 2022 and host France in their final qualifier — know one more Oranje win either over Gibraltar or the Republic of Ireland will send the 1988 winners into next summer’s European Championship.

6. ROI score biggest win in two years

These last few days have been tough for Irish sporting fans, with their heavily favoured rugby side eliminated from the World Cup and reaching Euro 2024 — at least via the qualifying tournament — no longer possible. Stephen Kenny’s side nevertheless had a job to do against Gibraltar on the road. Evan Ferguson, unquestionably the most promising talent from the island, got the ball rolling as ROI ran out 4-0 winners — their biggest since putting the same amount of goals past Qatar without reply in October 2021.

Callum Robinson registered a brace back then and the Cardiff City forward netted Ireland’s fourth with efforts from Matt Doherty and Michael Johnston sandwiched in between.