FRIDAY’S BIG STORIES
Turns out if you pick in-form players they will do the business, even in a friendly most people either forgot was on or questioned why on earth it was on. (What’s that, another two internationals after this?)
But fair play to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who on his England debut headed home from a Jack Grealish cross to set them on their way against Wales at Wembley. First and second in the Premier League combining, by the way.
Then Conor Coady and Danny Ings both scored their first England goals as well, capping off a decent night for Gareth Southgate’s experimental side – an England B, if you will, and all rather timely amid talk of English football’s pyramid lacking Premier League B teams, according to Man City chief executive Ferran Soriano at least.
And so it was somewhat pleasing to see Calvert-Lewin, on loan from Sheffield United at Stalybridge Celtic (Conference Premier) in 2014-15 and then Northampton Town (League Two) a season later, score an actual international goal on Thursday.
Then Coady, too, who – after leaving Liverpool played in League One with Sheffield United before playing in the Championship with Huddersfield and Wolves, with whom he enjoyed promotion to the Premier League – also scored an actual international goal.
And then you have Ings. You get the picture by now, but here was a man scoring an actual international goal nine years on from a stint in the Conference South before he cut his teeth at Burnley in the Championship.
The system works. It just needs your help.
PENALTIES, PENALTIES, PENALTIES
Oh the agony and ecstasy of a penalty shootout.
The possibility of a Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland play-off for next summer’s Euro 2020/2021 was avoided when the Republic lost on pens to Slovakia, and now we never know how that all would have played out.
For Scotland, after a first-ever penalty shootout win, it’s Serbia who stand between them and a first major tournament since 1998.
Wait… Serbia? Has anyone told Eurosport’s Ben Snowball yet? It was supposed to be Norway, but er…
POGBA HAD A DREAM
Professional footballers + interviews on international duty = always fun
All footballers would love to play for Real Madrid. It is a dream for me. Why not one day? [But] I am in Manchester and I love my club. I perform in Manchester, I have fun and I want to do everything to put the club back where it deserves to be. I will give my all, like my team-mates and the club. We all want to come back to the best level.
Okay, okay, he loves Manchester United, but does someone from the club, or any club regarding almost any player for that matter, not ask them to avoid answering these questions while playing for their country?
Ah well, best get used to typing Real Madrid, Paul Pogba and ‘whose contract expires next year although Manchester United have the option to extend a further 12 months’ a few thousand times before next summer.
Something our German colleagues made last year because, y'know, he gets linekd with Real every year
Image credit: Eurosport
IN OTHER NEWS
Can you kick it?
No, you can’t. From the touchline, anyway.
Though if Arsene Wenger gets his way you might be allowed to.
Arsene Wenger wants kick-ins
Image credit: Getty Images
The former Arsenal manager and forever football philosopher wants to introduce 'kick-ins' instead of throw-ins for when teams are in their own half.
Wenger even delivered numbers, stating eight out of 10 times the ball is lost from a throw-in. It should be an advantage, not a disadvantage he argues.
Hard to disagree.
For reasons unknown that talk of kick-ins took our stream of consciousness to this old advert featuring Peter Kay, so thought I’d just share it with you now as there’s no notable football birthdays or memorable moments from this day in history.
You’re welcome, John Smith’s. ‘Ave it.
It is quite rare for a player to feature in the Guardian's Next Generation series without being signed to a professional football club, yet Kelvin John is an important exception. The versatile attacking player dubbed the Tanzanian Mbappé has been raising eyebrows for a couple of years and is widely regarded as one of Africa's more eye-catching talents.
Pretend you always knew these players were going to make it big by reading The Guardian's Next Generation 2020: 60 of the best young talents in world football - compiled by Marcus Christenson, Jim Powell and Garry Blight. In 2015, they sounded out Dayot Upamecano and Christian Pulisic, a year later Kai Havertz and Matthijs de Ligt.
No Nations League just yet, hold your horses. That’s from Saturday, but over the course of Friday you can tuck into a whole host of U21 Euro qualifiers, Fleetwood v Hull in League One, or friendlies including Japan v Cameroon, Kenya v Zambia and Nigeria v Algeria. Why not?