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International Roundup: Larsson Scores Twice & Sess Stays Safe

Seb Larsson was a two goal hero for Sweden against Croatia.
Seb Larsson was a two goal hero for Sweden against Croatia.

A keener eye than usual has been cast on international football this week as we all pray that our players came home safely and soundly ahead of this weekend's Tyne-Wear derby.

Plenty of players have been out and about, not just the appearance of Fraizer Campbell in the England squad, so here we are rounding up all the action involving Sunderland player this midweek...

First of all, the biggest one for many of us - Stephane Sessegnon and his Benin teammates who took on Ethiopia. Benin laboured to a 0-0 draw, and were by in large lucky to escape at 0-0 as the Ethiopians dominated proceedings. Sessegnon had very little involvement in the game, despite playing the full 90 minutes. Barely got a kick, wasted a freekick from a good position, but most importantly of all, he didn't get injured, contrary to some internet rumours. He's absolutely fine and will be back in top form this coming weekend. Hopefully.

Elsewhere on the same continent, Ahmed Elmohamady was in action for Egypt during their 1-0 win over Niger. Elmo started the game at right-back in a conventional 4-4-2, not the wing-back role he tends to play for his country. Elmohamady was lively for the most part, and played his part in the games only goal as he was tripped to win a penalty, converted by Hosni Abd-Rabou.

There was encouraging news on the fitness of David Vaughan, as he started for Wales in their friendly with Costa Rica and got 70 minutes under his belt. Early on in the game he fired a shot well wide, but aside from that was his usual workmanlike self as the hosts went down 1-0 to the Latin Americans.

Two of Sunderland's three Irishmen were in action as well this midweek. John O'Shea started for the Republic against their Czech counterparts, and was involved quite a bit. Starting the game at right-back, he seemed fairly solid until the visitors opened the scoring, where he was slightly at fault, being caught out of position before allowing Milan Baros to score. O'Shea played the full 90 minutes.

James McClean also featured in the game, coming for the last fifteen or so minutes, and was greeted warmly with a standing ovation before he'd even stepped on the pitch, and when he had his first drive at the Czech defence there was another huge roar. He didn't contribute to the Irish equaliser, but he'll be absolutely buzzing for the weekend's game after a lively cameo.

Kieren Westwood was an unused substitute in that game, as was Craig Gordon as Scotland drew 1-1 in Slovenia (Phil Bardsley withdrew from this game), however Simon Mignolet was in goal as Belgium drew 1-1 with Greece.

Mignolet will have to share some of the blame for the Greeks goal. A horrible back pass was intercepted and found Mignolet in no-mans land, at which point he just seemed to give up on the play. Rather than smother the ball at the feet of the attacking player he just sort of... left it to the returning defenders, almost as if he thought he'd given away a penalty as that attacker did go down. Nothing was given, and the Greek player had a simple tap in.

Back to the UK for a moment, and specifically England where Fraizer Campbell made his senior international bow, coming on as a 79th minute substitute for former Sunderland teammate, Danny Welbeck. Campbell didn't have a great deal to do initially, with his main involvement seeing a shot on the turn cannon off Joris Mathijsen, however he did have a small role to play in England's second goal. Downing's cross eluded everyone, and Campbell had the awareness to play it back to Theo Walcott as opposed to turn and shoot himself, as a greedier striker would have, before Ashley Young eventually finished things off.

A heartbreaking goal at the death by Arjen Robben saw the Dutch run out 3-2 winners, but Campbell can be happy with his appearance in the game.

Fellow striker Connor Wickham was in the U21 squad for the game with Belgium U21's at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium, but failed to make the substitutes bench as the Young Lions ran out 4-0 winners.

Over to check on our Scandanavian brothers for the final part of this, and first up, Sebastian Larsson. Seb didn't start the game, but did come on as substitute and bag a brace for his side. The first came after the Swedes had broke at pace, and the initial effort was blocked, Larsson was on hand, unmarked to slot the ball past the keeper.

The second was a lovely passing move involving himself and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Larsson won the ball in midfield, played it wide to Ibra, and continued his run, picking up the return pass and calmly slotting it past the keeper from almost the same position as his first goal.

Nicklas Bendtner's Denmark went down 2-0 at home to Russia. Bendtner, still wearing his mask, missed a good chance to equalise from close range after 20 minutes when he lashed wide from just outside the six-yard box. That was about it really as the Russians dominated proceedings, and Bendtner was substituted not long after the hour, and not long after he missed another good chance for the Danes.

All in all, a relatively mixed bag for our players, but on the positive side, Larsson, McClean and Campbell should all come back to Wearside absolutely delighted, whilst we're all ecstatic that Stephane Sessegnon came through his game unscathed, and if we're honest, probably quite rested.

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