International Roundup: Gini Stars on Successful Outings for Senior International Reds

Gini Wijnaldum was Liverpool’s star of the international break as the Netherlands reignited their hopes of qualifying for the 2020 European Championships.

Captained by the ever-present Virgil van Dijk in both games, Netherlands reversed their 3-2 home defeat to Germany last March by coming from a goal down to defeat the 2014 world champions 4-2.

Wijnaldum set up Donyell Malen to put the away side ahead in the 79th minute and would secure victory with the fourth goal in stoppage time as he latched onto Memphis Depay’s low cross to dispatch first time past a helpless Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Four would once again be the charm for Liverpool’s number five as three days later Wijnaldum would put the icing on the cake for the Dutch with their fourth goal away in Estonia.

Wijnaldum’s 87th minute header was his third goal in just four Euro 2020 qualifiers as he continues to thrive in his more forward-orientated role under national team coach Ronald Koeman.

Having only picked up three points from their opening two qualifiers, back-to-back wins for the Netherlands now leave them just three points behind Germany and Northern Ireland in Group C with a game in hand.

England would also take two wins from Group A to move within one victory of confirming their qualification for next summer’s tournament.

Jordan Henderson was the only Liverpool player to make successive starts for Gareth Southgate’s side as England comfortably beat Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley before edging past Kosovo in an action-packed 5-3 win.

Trent Alexander-Arnold would make his seventh cap for the senior England side, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was restricted to a 13 minute cameo on Saturday at Wembley as he made his first international appearance in 18 months.

Joe Gomez earned himself another call-up but the 22-year-old central defender failed to feature in either game.

England’s less-than-assured performance defensively versus Kosovo is likely to see Gomez in the frame to be reinstated at the heart of the England backline for October’s qualification double-header.

Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren found himself on the scoresheet in Croatia’s dominant 4-0 triumph away at Slovakia.

Lovren has seen his minutes at Liverpool restricted, but started both of his country’s qualifiers during the international break.

Croatia’s impressive win in Trnava was succeeded by a laboured performance in Baku on Monday night that saw the World Cup finalists pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, Zlatko Dalić’s side retain control at the top of Group E and are on course to qualify for the Euros for the sixth time.

However, it would be disappointment for captain Andrew Robertson and the Scottish national team as their hopes of qualifying for the first time since 1996 took a major dent.

Successive losses at Hampden Park to firstly Russia by a slender 2-1 margin and then a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Belgium courtesy of a playmaking masterclass from Kevin De Bruyne mean Scotland’s chances are hanging by the smallest of threads.

Sitting only above San Marino, Scotland’s six points from six games leave them 12 points off the group leaders Belgium.

Meanwhile, Brazil didn’t fare too well in their first international games since being crowned Copa America champions in July.

Roberto Firmino started in both the 2-2 draw against Colombia and the 1-0 loss to Peru, whilst Fabinho was a second-half substitute in the latter.

Ederson made a rare start for the Seleção in the absence of Alisson, who continues to be side-lined with the calf injury he sustained in the opening game of the season.

However, the Manchester City shotstopper found himself at fault for the Peruvian’s only goal of the game when he was beaten to a free-kick by the head of Luis Abram five minutes from time.

Jurgen Klopp will have found solace that all of his players who departed for international duty returned without injury ahead of a hectic month that includes four away games across three competitions.

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