International Round-Up

Saturday 23 March 2013 11:46

Bryan Ruiz and Costa Rica went down to a 1-0 defeat to the United States in Group Four of the North, Central America and Caribbean World Cup qualifying section in Colorado. In snowy conditions, former Fulham man Clint Dempsey got the only goal of the game in the 16th minute. Costa Rica host Jamaica in San José on Tuesday.

In Europe, Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise both started as Norway went down to a shock 1-0 Group E defeat to Albania in Oslo on Friday. Hamdi Salihi scored the only goal of the game in the 67th minute. The result sees Norway slip down the table to fourth.

Alexander Kačaniklić, currently on loan at Burnley, played the full match as Sweden drew 0-0 at home to the Republic of Ireland in Group C on Friday. The Swedes, who are in second place in the group and five points adrift of Germany, face Slovakia in a friendly on Tuesday.

Giorgos Karagounis played the full 90 minutes but Greece went down to a 3-1 defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday night. The win saw Safet Sušić's team move three points clear of their opponents at the Group G summit after a commanding display that featured two goals from Edin Džeko.

There was no match action for Aaron Hughes and Northern Ireland on Friday after their clash with Group F leaders Russia was postponed due to snow. Under FIFA rules, the Irish Football Association had to make another attempt to stage the fixture on Saturday. Volunteers helped clear snow off the pitch in Belfast but their efforts were in vain and the game was postponed for a second time. It is now likely to be staged in June.

Northern Ireland will be hoping the weather improves by Tuesday when they host Israel, a game Chris Baird will be suspended for following the postponement of the Russia match.

Mladen Petrić was an unused substitute as Croatia defeated Serbia 2-0 in Group A on Friday. First-half goals from Mario Mandžukić and Ivica Olić earned Croatia the victory in the first-ever meeting between the sides. Croatia face Chris Coleman’s Wales at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday.

Stanislav Manolev was also left on the bench as Bulgaria thumped Malta 6-0 on Friday in Group B. Alexandar Tonev hit a hat-trick, with Ivelin Popov, Emil Gargorov and Ivan Ivanov also on target. The win takes Bulgaria to within a point of leaders Italy. Bulgaria head to Denmark on Tuesday.

Young goalkeeper Jesse Joronen was on the bench as Finland earned a superb 1-1 draw against Spain in Gijon on Friday in Group I. Joronen will now meet up with the Under-21 side for their friendly in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kerim Frei entered the action in the 90th minute as Turkey won 2-0 in Andorra. Turkey, who are fifth in Group D, welcome Hungary to Istanbul on Tuesday.

Sean Kavanagh was introduced from the bench as Republic of Ireland Under-19s won 1-0 in a friendly against Gibraltar in Malaga. Luke Gallagher scored the only goal, with Gibraltar seeing an injury-time penalty saved.

On Thursday, Lasse Vigen Christensen played as Denmark's Under-19s drew 1-1 with France.