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Royals lock horns in home nations stalemate

24 March 2016

International update: Gunter, Norwood, Vydra, Al Habsi and Cooper on duty...

Ollie Norwood and Chris Gunter each played ninety minutes in a 1-1 friendly draw between Norwood's Northern Ireland and Gunter's Wales in Cardiff this evening.

Craig Cathcart had given former Royals loanee Michael O'Neill's men the lead in the Welsh capital with a fine strike on the hour, but Reading Academy graduate Simon Church did his chances of heading to France with Chris Coleman's side this summer no harm when he came off the bench to win and convert a late penalty.

Northern Ireland looked set to secure their first away friendly win in almost a decade before Gareth McAuley brought Church down inside the box and the in-form Aberdeen striker smashed home from the spot.

Matej Vydra was in action against another of the home nations, coming off the bench for the Czech Republic to play the last 25 minutes of his country's 1-0 home defeat to Scotland - Ikechi Anya's 10th minute winner earning the Scots a friendly win.

Vydra replaced Bursaspor's Tomas Necid and twice came close to an equaliser before his strong appeal for a penalty was dismissed by referee Paul McLaughlin in Prague.

Ali Al Habsi kept yet another clean sheet for his country earlier today, as Oman won 1-0 in Muscat against Guam – thanks from a second half goal Ahmed Al Mahajri.

That result means that Al Habsi’s Oman are now on the brink of qualifying for the third and final qualifying stage for the World Cup Finals. Oman face Asia’s top ranked side Iran in Tehran next week.

Jake Cooper came off the bench for England's Under-20s in a 4-1 victory against Canada Under-20s in a behind closed doors international at the Keepmoat Stadium earlier today. ;

Having led by Brandon Barker’s solitary goal in the first period, England ran out comfortable winners in the end and added to their lead with three second half strikes from Casey Palmer, Ashley Fletcher and Alex Gilliead - while Cooper replaced West Ham's Reece Burke with 20 minutes remaining, coming on for Keith Downing's men at the same time as Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.

Cooper and the Three Lions will now prepare to face Canada again, this time in front of watching England fans, on Sunday at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Dominic Hyam's Scotland Under-21 side were felled by two late goals from France in a UEFA U21 Championships Qualifying Round clash tonight, while Niall Keown played the full ninety minutes as the Republic of Ireland suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Group 2 leaders Italy in the same competition.

Young Royals defender Zak Jules represented Scotland’s Under-19s on Wednesday morning, playing the full ninety minutes in a 2-0 defeat to Belgium our in Kostrena, Croatia.

It was the Scottish side’s first fixture in their U19 Euro Elite Round and Jules will hope to be involved in games against hosts Croatia and Bulgaria over the Easter period.

Meanwhile, earlier this afternoon, Royals youngster Sammi Fridjonsson played the full ninety for Iceland's Under-21s in a goalless draw with Macedonia in Skopje.

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