International Round-Up

Saturday 16 November 2013 12:17

There were highs and lows for the Whites' international stars in their crunch FIFA World Cup 2014 playoff first leg matches.

It may only be half-time in the tie, but Giorgos Karagounis will be delighted with Greece's efforts in overcoming Romania by three goals to one in Piraeus, Athens.

In a chaotic seven-minute period, the Greeks went ahead through in-form striker Kostas Mitroglou on 14 minutes before Romanian frontman Bogdan Stancu pulled Victor Pituca's men level five minutes later.

Dimitris Salpigidis restored the hosts lead less than two minutes after the restart, and Mitroglou struck again after 67 minutes to hand the hosts a two-goal cushion.

Manager Fernando Santos called Karagounis from the substitutes bench after 77 minutes to help see out the result, and Romania's Costin Lazar was shown a red card in stoppage time as frustrations boiled over.

Karagounis and his compatriots will travel to Bucharest on Tuesday in a strong position to secure their place in Brazil next summer, but Alexander Kačaniklić and Sweden have it all to do when they host their second leg against Portugal at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

The Whites young winger showed glimpses of his potential in Lisbon, but Cristiano Ronaldo's header from Miguel Veloso's cross consigned the Swedes to a 1-0 defeat.

Manager Erik Hamren started Kacaniklic on the left, and the 22-year-old caused Portugese right-back Joao Pereira all manner of problems, drawing a foul and a yellow card for his marker after a deft step-over just before half-time.

But Portugal increased the pressure on the visitors in the second half and the Real Madrid striker Ronaldo pounced to head the only goal on 82 minutes.

Ashkan Dejagah was on target as Iran cruised past Thailand 3-0 in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier. 

The Whites wideman opened the scoring on 32 minutes before Reza Ghoochannejhad and Alireza Jahanbakhsh enhanced the victory in Bangkok, leaving Iran top of their qualifying group with ten points from four games.

Pajtim Kasami was also on the scoresheet, with his first international goal in his first senior start, but Switzerland slipped to a 2-1 defeat in a friendly against South Korea.

Kasami fired Ottmar Hitzfeld's team ahead with a left-footed drive with only seven minutes on the clock as the Swiss went into half-time in Seoul a goal to the good.

Philippe Senderos was introduced on 47 minutes, and Kasami withdrawn on 69 minutes, as goals from Jeong-Ho Hong and Bolton's Chung-Yong Lee completed the comeback.

In other friendly action, Aaron Hughes started at centre-back for Northern Ireland in Turkey, but a solitary goal from Mevlut Erdinc on the stroke of half-time made the difference as Turkey held on win 1-0 in Adana.

In the European Under-21 Championship qualifiers, Lasse Vigen Christensen came on as a late substitute as Denmark defeated Bulgaria 3-2 away from home to maintain their position at the top of Group 2.

After the Danes took the lead through Yussuf Poulsen, the home side rallied and took control of the game courtesy of Edisson Jordanov's deflected free-kick and a Milen Gamakov header. But Denmark fought back with captain Jannik Vestergaard grabbing the equaliser and Poulsen notching the winner in the 87th minute.

Finland Under-21s left Wales with a convincing 5-1 win under their belts, with Jesse Joronen between the sticks. Kastriot Kastrati put the away side ahead, before a Tim Vayrynen brace and Moshtagh Yaghoubi's strike put them four up before half-time. Emyr Huws beat Joronen from the penalty spot shortly after the interval, but Vayrynen secured his hat-trick to inflict a heavy defeat on Wales.

Liam Donnelly played the full 90 minutes as Northern Ireland were defeated 3-0 in Italy. A Federico Viviani free-kick put the Azzurri in front in the first half, and late goals from Antonio Rozzi and Andrea Belotti made the scoreline more convincing.