International round-up: 11/10/2013

By SFC Media time Sat 12 Oct Men's First team

An excellent strike from Dani Osvaldo was the highlight of a mixed evening for Southampton's eight senior internationals.

The striker put Italy ahead after 27 minutes of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Denmark last night, collecting a cross-field pass and shifting the ball onto his right foot to finish superbly.

However, the hosts hit back to lead in Copenhagen through a Nicklas Bendtner double, but former Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani deflected Osvaldo's low shot beyond the Danish goalkeeper in second-half injury to earn the Azzurri a 2-2 draw.

Italy had already qualified for next summer's finals, and thus their position at the top of European Qualifying Group B remains unaffected ahead of their final match, against Armenia next Tuesday.

However, the evening was not so good for Maya Yoshida, Dejan Lovren, Steven Davis, Artur Boruc and Gastón Ramírez, all of whom suffered defeat on the international stage.

Yoshida lined up for Japan in their friendly against Serbia in Novi Sad, playing the full match as the home nation ran out 2-0 winners.

The Samurai Blue will hope to improve on that result in their next game, a friendly in Belarus next Tuesday.

Lovren's Croatia went into their penultimate Group A game that only victory would keep their hopes of automatic qualification alive.

The Saints defender was named in the starting line-up but could not stop Belgium taking a two-goal first-half lead in Zagreb through Everton's on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku.

The hosts halved the deficit late on through QPR's Niko Kranjcar, but the result ultimately means Croatia must now look to the play-offs to secure a place at next summer's World Cup finals.

A World Cup spot was already beyond Northern Ireland, who were skippered by Davis as usual for their penultimate qualifier, against Azerbaijan.

The Green and White Army were looking to recover from last month's embarrassing defeat to Luxembourg, but were beaten again as they went down by two goals to nil in Baku.

Boruc lined up in goal for Poland in Ukraine, with both sides knowing a positive result could give them the upper hand in Europe's most closely-contested qualifying group.

However, the goalkeeper did something he hasn't done in a Saints shirt since August – concede a goal – as Ukraine ran out 1-0 winners in Kharkiv to end Poland's qualification hopes.

They now travel to Wembley next Tuesday to face leaders England, for whom Rickie Lambert was an unused substitute during last night's 4-1 win over Montenegro.

Ramírez came on as a 78th-minute substitute for Uruguay in their qualifier against Ecuador in Quito, but could not prevent the visitors losing 1-0.

It now looks likely that they will need to negotiate a play-off against Jordan if they are to reach the World Cup finals.

Ramírez's country could still qualify automatically if they beat already-qualified Argentina by a large margin next Tuesday and hope that Chile and Ecuador do not play out a draw to guarantee both seal their spots in Brazil.

Finally, Lloyd Isgrove was an unused substitute for Wales last night as they beat Macedonia 1-0 in Cardiff.

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