From South America to Eastern Europe, the Premier League's finest foreign talents took to the field in World Cup qualifiers last night - but how did they all get on?
By Ewan Roberts
With World Cup qualification now underway, hundreds of teams across multiple continents are battling it out for a place at Brazil 2014, and there are plenty of Premier League imports taking part. There was also a not-so-friendly clash between current World and European champions Spain and Saudi Arabia.
Goal.com brings you the best and worst individual displays from the Premier League’s foreign stars as we catch up with Friday night's action.
Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko scored a 35-minute second-half hat-trick as Bosnia and Herzegovina cruised past Liechtenstein in an 8-1 away win. The perfect treble, Dzeko’s first was an explosive right-footed finish across the goalkeeper, his second a header from inside the 6-yard box, and for his third he opened up his left foot and guided the ball past the goalkeeper.
The first of three Tottenham players to have a good night, Jan Vertonghen kept a clean sheet and thundered in a free-kick as Belgium beat Wales 2-0. The Spurs defender, playing at left-back, had the ball rolled into his path from 25-yards out before powering an effort past a helpless Boaz Myhill. With the likes of Mousa Dembele, Eden Hazard and Marouane Fellaini also involved, the Belgians had already taken the lead through Vincent Kompany before Vertonghen's strike.
With a headed strike almost identical to his hat-trick goal against Southampton last Sunday, Robin van Persie put the Netherlands ahead in their tie against Turkey. The Man Utd forward made a near post run from a corner before flicking the ball past Tolga Zengin in the Turkish goal.
In an all-Scandinavian clash between Iceland and Norway, Gylfi Sigurdsson had a very good game and provided the assist for Iceland’s second goal, killing Norway’s hopes of getting anything from the match and securing an unexpected win for the home team. The one-time Swansea loanee's set pieces were a constant threat and only the width of the post denied him a goal.
Sigurdsson’s new teammate Hugo Lloris has spent the last few days batting away reports that he’s already unhappy with new manager Andre Villas-Boas, but against Finland it was his goalkeeping that stole the headlines. Solid and commanding all evening, Lloris produced a stunning reflex save in the dying embers of the game to preserve all three points for Les Blues.
Lloris’ countryman and now north London rival Abou Diaby also played against Finland and was in equally fine form. The Arsenal midfielder built on his excellent performance last week at Anfield by delivering a man-of-the-match performance and scoring the decisive goal in France’s 1-0 win.
Adding to his incredible tally of goals scored with his first touch, Nikica Jelavic headed in Mario Mandzukic’s cross to score Croatia’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Macedonia. The Everton forward was an endless nuisance for the Macedonian defence and took his goal with unnerving aplomb.
In his 100th appearance for Spain, Fernando Torres gave a performance that suggests he might not be back to his best after all. Reminiscent of “that miss” against Manchester United last season, Torres broke clear of the Saudi Arabian backline before horribly miscontrolling his touch and sending the ball out for a goal kick. He wasted a number of chances and then had to watch from the bench as replacement David Villa scored from the spot.
Fulham’s Norse duo of Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise had poor games by their standards as Norway lost in Reykjavik to Iceland, ranked 84 places lower than the Norwegians according to FIFA rankings. Hangeland had a clumsy game, at fault for both goals, and struggled to compete with the Icelandic attack on set pieces, while Riise’s lacklustre performance was summed up by an inexplicable foul throw deep in Iceland’s half.
New Southampton signing Gaston Ramirez featured in Uruguay’s loss away to Colombia. The playmaker was helpless to prevent his side from receiving a 4-0 hammering in Barranquilla. To add insult to injury, Uruguay were almost forced to play in local side Junior’s away kit after their own kits were lost in transit in Panama
Despite leading at half-time, Reading’s Kaspars Gorkss watched his Latvian side throw away a hard fought lead with less than half an hour remaining. The centre-back picked up a yellow card and contributed to some collectively slack defending that saw Greece score a second goal ten minutes later, denying Latvia a share of the points.
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