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International Round-Up: How The Sunderland Lot Fared This Weekend

A goal and an assist for Sebastian Larsson this weekend.
A goal and an assist for Sebastian Larsson this weekend.

I've bemoaned international breaks before as boring, and this weekend really was the tip of it all. Perhaps it was the game, perhaps it was my own lethargy that lead to me missing the first 40 minutes of the England game in Montenegro, before promptly falling asleep at half time. 

Luckily for me, Roker Report is a collective, and between us we've managed to catch the games this weekend which involved the Sunderland troupe. We've done a few of these now, and it's becoming a bit of a familiar bunch, but never the less, some Sunderland players are doing football, and that's all I need to maintain an interest in international games.

So without further ado, here's how they got on...

We'll start with the youngest of the bunch, Louis Laing, who was called into the England U19 squad last week after Liverpool's John Flanagan was bumped up to U21 duty. The Young Lions are over in Limoges, France for a mini tournament involving themselves, France, Portugal and Ukraine.

On Wednesday, during a 1-1 draw with the French, Laing played only 9 minutes, coming on for striker Will Keane as England looked to play out a draw. Following that outing, Laing started and played the full ninety minutes against the Portuguese in the centre of defence with Chelsea's Nat Chalobah, as England earned a great 1-0 win.

Fellow SAFC youngster Jordan Pickford was originally in the squad for these games, but was forced to withdraw through injury.

Over to the Helsinki Olympiastadion, where Sebastian Larsson and his fellow Swedes fought off Finland 2-1, and clinched a play-off berth for Euro 2012.

Larsson started the game wide right of midfield, and opened the scoring for the visitors. Larsson drifted inside and beat the offside trap, finding him one on one, and he smashed home past Lukas Hradecky into the bottom corner.

Larsson was involved in Sweden's second goal too, as his low cross was eventually bundled in from close range my Blackburn's Martin Olsson.

Seb was withdrawn from the game after suffering a slight injury with 20 minutes or so left in the game, but it shouldn't keep him out of next week's game with the Netherlands.

To the Liberty Stadium, where David Vaughan and his fellow Welshmen took on Switzerland, and promptly won 2-0. Vaughan was suffering an injury last week which kept him out of West Brom, and could only make the bench, and play nine minutes against the Swiss. He didn't really add much to the game, but luckily he also showed no signs of a problem, and could come into contention against Arsenal.

To Andorra, and erm, wherever the Andorra National Team play there football, where John O'Shea played in a lacklustre 2-0 win for the Republic of Ireland over the minnows. Rarely was John going to be troubled in defence. A defence in which he played centrally might I add. O'Shea did make a couple of opportunities when going forward however.

Early doors, O'Shea attacked a freekick with venom, and struck the post but was unfortunately flagged offside, before minutes later playing a part in Kevin Doyle's opening goal. Cross comes in, O'Shea gets ahead of the Andorran keeper, and Doyle finishes. 

That was pretty much it as the game was a bit of a wet fart. Keiren Westwood was nowhere to be seen, not even on the bench.

And so we head off to Seoul, where Ji Dong-Won started and played the full game as South Korea drew 2-2 with Poland in a friendly. Ji's performace was more akin to what we've seen on of him. Lots of running, hard work, bringing others in, but he just couldn't get on target. A nice warm-up however for their World Cup Qualifier with UAE on Tuesday. Ji also played as the central striker, a position Bruce is yet to really give him a shot in.

In Belgium, Simon Mignolet started again for Belgium as they moved closer to qualification with a 4-1 win over Kazakhstan. Mignolet with little to do most the night as the Belgians dominated proceedings, only to be stung at the death when a penalty was given away, and Kairat Nurdauletov gave our man no chance. Would have been nice for him to keep a clean sheet, but these things happen.

Belgium head to Germany next week now, knowing they need to better Turkey's result to qualify.

To sunny Cyprus, where Nicklas Bendtner was in action for Denmark as they cruised to a 4-1 over the hosts. Bendtner, played the full game, but couldn't manage to get on the scoresheet as Denmark ran riot in the opening 22 minutes with all four of their goals. Bendtner's closest chance came in the tenth minute when he fired wide from 20 yards. Should have done better really, but a win's a win.

I suppose technically he's still our player, but if you're wondering how Asamoah Gyan got on for Ghana in their African Cup Of Nations qualifier against Sudan, look no further. Gyan started, and scored against the Sudanese. He looked surprisingly sharp actually, and like he'd lost a few pounds. The Ghanaian's ran out 2-0 winners, with former loanee John Mensah grabbing the other goal.

Due to his own stupidity, we haven't seen much of Phil Bardsley lately, however he did reclaim his place in the Scotland side for their 1-0 win in Liechtenstein. Bardsley, starting at left-back did pretty well too, with his most telling contributions on the half hour. First a 'trademark' Bardo cut in and shot was parried away by the keeper, before moments later, Bardsley hung a cross in the air for Craig Mackail-Smith to nod in the only goal.

Bardsley had other chances to score aside from the one mentioned. One in particular where he completely missed the ball, but his main work was done defensively. One key last-ditch tackle towards the end meant Scotland came away with all three points rather than one.

And lastly, in a damp-squib of an African Cup Of Nations qualifier which had absolutely nothing but pride up for grabs, Stephane Sessegnon endured an up and down game for Benin as they fell 1-0 to Rwanda. Benin started very slowly and were made to pay in the opening ten minutes. As for our Sess, he played the full 90 minutes, and was the only real threat for The Squirrels. Constantly a thorn in the side of Rwanda, but sadly there was just too much work to do for one man as he cut a frustrated figure as time wore on.

And that will end this weekends international round-up. A mixed bag for our lot as per usual with these things, but there you go. Encouraging to see Sebastian Larsson in fine form, and Bardsley should we need him in a few weeks time. We'll be back with another international round-up on Wednesday after taking in all the midweek action.

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