presented by
International round-up

Joy for Shaq and Daniel, despair for David

Friday was a night of celebration for Bayern’s large Germany contingent, but also for fellow stars Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel van Buyten, as Switzerland and Belgium booked their places at the World Cup next summer. “We’re obviously going to have a bit of a party, that much is clear. And I think we could cause a stir in Brazil too,” beamed Shaqiri, the outstanding player on the night in a 2-1 victory away to Albania. Shaq set his team on the way to victory with a low shot on 47 minutes, with Lang doubling the score ten minutes from time. Salihi pulled one back at the death, but Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team held on and took all three points in Tirana. The one fly in the ointment from an FCB point of view was the sight of Shaqiri limping off after 53  minutes with a hamstring problem.

It was also a magical evening for Van Buyten, as the veteran centre-back covering the full 90 minutes as he and his Belgian team-mates beat their last remaining group rivals Croatia 2-1 in Zagreb. The Red Devils are through to the World Cup finals for the first time in 12 years. Romelu Lukaku earned the man of the match plaudits with a well-taken first-half brace. The striker, currently on loan to Everton from Chelsea, missed the last penalty of the UEFA Super Cup shootout for the Blues against Bayern in late August. Croatia’s Niko Kranjcar pulled one back with seven minutes to play, but the response came too late.

Alaba’s dream crumbles to dust

Croatia and Mario Mandzukic, who also played from start to finish, have missed out on a direct qualifying place but are certain to finish second and could yet make it to Brazil via the play-offs. Even that possibility is now closed to Austria, as David Alaba and Co lost unluckily to Sweden in Solna. The Austrians even took the lead through Martin Harnik (29), but Olsson (56) and superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic (86) turned it round for the Swedes, who now face Germany in a dead rubber in Stockholm next Tuesday before trying their luck in the play-offs.

Arjen Robben and the Netherlands qualified for Brazil in the last round of matches, but the Dutch are by no means resting on their laurels and crushed Hungary 8-1 at the Amsterdam Arena. Robben played the full match and scored in the last minute. Robin van Persie (16, 43, 53), Kevin Strootman (25), Lens (38) and Hamburg’s Rafael Van der Vaart (86) scored for Louis van Gaal’s team, with the Hungarians contributing an own goal.

Ribéry from the spot

Franck Ribéry also scored as France demolished Australia 6-0 in a friendly. Bayern’s European Footballer of the Year opened the scoring with an eighth-minute penalty. Olivier Giroud of Arsenal (16, 27), Cabaye (29.), Debuchy (47) and Karim Benzema (51) added further goals, with Ribéry contributing two assists. The Bayern star was substituted after the hour, with an eye on a decisive final group match against Finland on Tuesday.

Claudio Pizarro and Dante are in action for Peru and Brazil in the early hours of the European morning. will provide updates on the Argentina-Peru and Brazil-South Korea encounters in the course of Saturday.