From Bale to Walcott: How the Premier League stars fared on Friday

The Republic of Ireland defence failed to cope with a far superior Germany side while Shinji Kagawa struck in the 88th minute to hand Japan a shock 1-0 win over France
By Joe Doyle, Joe McPhee and Alex Young

With the qualification process for World Cup 2014 now three matchdays old, we are starting to form an idea of which countries could start looking up flight prices to Brazil and which teams need a kick up the preverbal. brings you both the best and the worst individual displays from Friday's round of internationals as we track those who ply their trade in the Premier League.


Gareth Bale
was in stunning form for Wales, winning the game almost single-handedly with two goals in the final nine minutes to confirm Chris Coleman’s first victory as manager. While he may have been slightly lucky in picking up a penalty, the winger converted it with aplomb, and there can be no arguing with the way in which he secured the points for his side, unleashing a thunderbolt into the top corner.

Admittedly, England were never tested against San Marino but, for Wayne Rooney, it was an "extremely proud" evening. The striker captained his country and, with a couple of goals on the night, pushed into fifth position in England's all-time goalscorers list. A memorable occasion for the Manchester United man.

10/1 Spain are 10/1 with PaddyPower to beat France 3-0 on Tuesday
Despite missing a glorious chance to open the scoring for Spain early on, David Silva made amends in fine fashion, laying on two assists in his hour-long outing as La Roja thumped Belarus 4-0.

The Premier League contingent shone brightly in Minsk, with Arsenal new-boy Santi Cazorla also pulling the strings in the centre of midfield. He broke up the opposition's moves, while also starting some for his own team. He nearly added a deserved goal to his performance, only to see Sergei Veremko's fingertips divert the shot over the bar.

It was jubilation for another Premier League newcomer as Shinji Kagawa struck in the 88th minute to give his Japan side a shock 1-0 victory over France in Paris. The Manchester United midfielder shrugged off a poor and unassuming first half to assert himself after the break, with the France defenders finding his pace particularly troublesome.

Fulham starlet Alexander Kacaniklic got off the mark for Sweden in just his second international appearance, notching an equaliser against the Faroe Islands just three minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute as Erik Hamren's men held on for a 2-1 victory.

A host of Premier League names helped Belgium to an excellent 3-0 win in Serbia - the first time that the latter have lost at home in over 10 years. Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke opened the scoring against the run of play in the 34th minute, before Chelsea's on-loan midfielder Kevin De Bruyne grabbed a second.

Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen's marauding run down the left set up number three for Everton forward Kevin Mirallas, who had not long come off the bench. Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen and Eden Hazard also starred in the convincing victory.

Elsewhere, Brede Hangeland equalised for Norway two minutes after going behind to grab a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland.


In what he surely expected to be a night of unchallenged runs and lax marking, Theo Walcott's game against San Marino ended after just four minutes when he collided with opposition goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini. The Arsenal man was stretched to the dressing room before being sent to hospital for a "precautionary" chest scan. The incident leaves Walcott a doubt for Tuesday's game against Poland, with his immediate chances for the Gunners also possibly affected.

There was a strong collection of Premier League presentatives on show at the Stade de France, as Les Bleus fell to their first defeat at home in two years against Japan.

7/2 Ireland are 7/2 with PaddyPower to qualify for World Cup 2014
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, along with Arsenal and Manchester City defenders Laurent Koscielny and Gael Clichy, had quiet evenings but, when Japan stepped up the pace in the second period, they struggled to contain them. The goalkeeper and centre-back looked shaky late on, the former spilling a speculative shot from distance, while Clichy failed to assert himself down the left flank.

Up front, Olivier Giroud was again the victim of his own poor finishing. He wasted a couple of glorious opportunities to break the deadlock, only to see his side punished with the late winner.

The likes of John O'Shea and Seamus Coleman faced a torrid evening as Republic of Ireland, studded with Premier League names, shipped six goals against Germany in their worst-ever home defeat.

In what seems to be an ongoing feud between Charlie Adam and Bale, this round certainly went to the Welshman. Adam was only on the pitch for 45 minutes and should have won plaudits for his legitimate assist after his cross to Steven Fletcher was wrongly adjudged to have gone out of play. And, to make matters worse, the Stoke City midfielder did not get close enough to Bale in the 89th minute, allowing the winger to hit a 25-year wonder-strike into the top corner and claim all three points.

Deposed as Wales captain and up against home nation opponents, it is fair to say that Aaron Ramsey's night did not go as planned. The 21-year-old was ineffective against Scotland and made mistakes which could have proved costly had Gareth Bale not turned up trumps in the final nine minutes.

The Arsenal man fluffed his lines when through on goal, dinking an effort wide with Bale alongside him with an open goal at which to shoot, before twice going down inside the opposition area under minimal contact. Booked, he will miss Tuesday's game against Croatia. One to forget, for sure.