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International break: Royals round-up

9 September 2015

A look around the globe for Reading players' results

Several Reading players have represented their nations during the recent international break – there has been a mixture of friendly fixtures and several crunch clashes in European Championship and World Cup qualifying.

Here’s a round-up of how our boys got on during their time away from Madejski Stadium…

Gibraltar 0-4 Ireland (Friday 4th September)
Ireland 1-0 Georgia (Monday 7th September)
Summer signings Stephen Quinn and Paul McShane were both called for Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifiers, as they made a bid to push up the table in Group D.  Quinn was called into to action for his nation in the last 20 minutes of the victory away in Gibraltar with Ireland eventually winning the game 4-0.  The latter fixture came at home to Georgia, who were on high after just beating Scotland – the boys in green were pushed hard in Dublin, but a winner from Jonathan Walters midway through the second half was enough to see them come away with maximum points. 

Ireland are now sitting third in Group D, in the play-off position, and are four points ahead of closest rivals Scotland with two tough games yet to play.  The final round of qualification fixtures will see Ireland host Germany before a trip to Poland; a win in either of those games would guarantee the Irish a play-off spot.

Jamaica 2-3 Nicaragua (Friday 4th September)
Nicaragua 0-2 Jamaica (Tuesday 8th September)
The World Cup qualifying campaign for Jamaica got off to a difficult start in a two-legged tie against Nicaragua.  Reading defender Michael Hector was called up for the Reggae Boyz but a disastrous start for the home side saw them trail 3-0 shortly after half-time.  Two second-half goals for the hosts, including one from former Royal Adrian Mariappa, pegged it back to 3-2 to set up a pivotal second-leg tie for Hector and his teammates, who needed a two-goal victory in Managua.

And by the skin of their teeth, they achieved it – Darren Mattocks got the first of their goals before the quarter-hour mark, but it looked as though Nicaragua were going to hold out to win on away goals.  That was until Simon Dawkins stepped up in the final minute to fire Jamaica ahead for the first time in the tie (4-3 on aggregate) and secure a place in the group stage of Concacaf qualifying.  Hec, who played the full 90 in both games, helped the Reggae Boyz in the second leg and they will now face Panama, Haiti and Costa Rica in the group stage.

Faroe Islands 1-3 Northern Ireland (Friday 4th September)
Northern Ireland 1-1 Hungary (Monday 7th September)
Northern Ireland still sit on top in their Euro 2016 pool and within touching distance of qualifying for the European Championships for the first time in their history.  Oliver Norwood had played a pivotal part of the Northern Ireland team who won 3-1 away in the Faroe Islands before being held to a 1-1 draw at home against Hungary. 

Norwood and his teammates conceded against the run of play at Windsor Park and were reduce to 10 men when Chris Baird saw red for two bookable offences, but in the last minute Kyle Lafferty poked home from close range to level the scores and keep qualification on track.  If the Northern Irish can defeat bottom of the group Greece at home in their next fixture, then qualification will be theirs with a game to spare.

Oman 3-1 Turkmenistan (Thursday 3rd September)
Guam 0-0 Oman (Tuesday 8th September)
Royals stopper and Oman captain Ali Al-Habsi had a successful international break by winning 3-1 at home to Turkmenistan before keeping a clean sheet away from home in a 0-0 draw against Guam in two 2018 World Cup qualification fixtures.

Oman currently sit second in their AFC World Cup qualification group – tied on points with Iran and Guam, but with a game in hand over the latter – and are still in the hunt to progress to the third round of qualification after obtaining seven points from three games so far.  They will host both India and Iran in the next round of fixtures.

USA 2-1 Peru (Friday 4th September)
Colombia 1-1 Peru (Tuesday 8th September)
Winger Paolo Hurtado got some minutes under his belt in friendly clashes in the USA during the break.  The first fixture came against hosts USA in Washington, D.C. – the new Royals man was brought on in the 64th minute, but his side lost 2-1 thanks to a brace from Jose Altidore.

Then against Colombia in New Jersey, the winger was called on for the final half-hour against their South American rivals – the Peruvians were trailing until stoppage-time, when Jefferson Farfan was brought down in the box and scored the resultant penalty to net a late equaliser for Hurtado’s country.

USA 2-1 Peru (Friday 4th September)
USA 1-4 Brazil (Tuesday 8th September)
Midfielder Danny Williams faced new teammate Paolo Hurtado when the USA met on Peru in the USMNT’s first fixture of the international weekend.  Williams was bought on in the second half for Jermaine Jones and helped the USA to a 2-1 victory in the capital.

Williams was again used from the bench when Brazil came to Foxborough – it was a tactical switch as early as the 36th minute that saw the Reading man called into action.  He couldn’t prevent the South Americans from registering a comfortable win, with Neymar netting twice, but Williams did score an absolute screamer from 30 yards in the final minute by way of consolation.

Cyprus 0-1 Wales (Thursday 3rd September)
Wales 0-0 Israel (Sunday 6th September)
Royals pair Chris Gunter and Hal Robson-Kanu are on the brink of booking a place in the European Championships with Wales after the weekend’s fixtures.  The Reading players played major roles in the Dragons’ fixtures by starting both games – a 1-0 win away in Cyprus put Wales on the verge of qualification courtesy of a Gareth Bale header, but a gutsy Israeli defensive performance held the Welsh to a 0-0 draw in Cardiff and meant that they will have to wait until October to put their place mathematically beyond doubt.

The Royals pair and their international colleagues now need just two points from their remaining couple of games to secure qualification.  The last two fixtures comprise of a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina followed by a final match against Andorra in Cardiff.

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