Hungary vs Portugal
Jose Fonte was once again on point in his final match of the international break. Though, it would be pretty difficult not to be on the top of your game when you’re playing alongside the cream of the footballing crop.
It would be Cristiano Ronaldo who would find the head of Andre Silva in the 48th minute of the match, and the Portuguese would go on to win the match 1-0.
The aim of the match changed drastically for Portugal as time went on. Three points seemed to become secondary to making it out of Hungary without a real injury. The Hungarians were getting very liberal with their elbows and feet after many minutes of frustration. At one point, Tamas Priskin, elbowed Pepe deliberately on a heading challenge and then proceeded to step on him as... revenge? It’s like running someone over with your car but then going at it again, full speed in reverse.
Jose Fonte and Portugal remain right behind the Swiss on the qualification table. They should be a lock for Russia at this point.
Switzerland vs Latvia
Edimilson Fernandes started on the bench for what was a very talented Suisse squad. Portugal and Switzerland have all but locked up a place in Russia, yet it seems the Swiss side were intent on not taking their foot off the gas in the slightest.
It only took 8 minutes for the Suisse machine to get steamrolling. Benefica’s own Haris Seferović turned a beautiful near post cross into three points for the red and whites.
Fernandes unfortunately didn’t see any time in this match. Up 3-0, Swiss manager Vladimir Petković decided to spread match time around to other players. However, fellow youngster Denis Zakaria came in the 78’ minute for the second match in a row. While Fernandes and Zakaria are different types of players, there is a bit of a competition growing between the two. Both are highly touted talents in the Swiss system so it is interesting to see Zakaria getting the nod. Probably just saving Fernandes for the important matches, eh?
England vs Slovakia
Joe Hart, once again, got the nod against Slovakia as he will continue to do throughout qualification. Gareth Southgate has made it clear Hart is his man, so there is no reason to expect anyone else between the sticks going into Russia 2018, bar some miraculous turn of form. Something like... playing for West Ham United. (Cheek lads, relax.)
However, the match did kick off to a roar, just not from the three lions. Taking England completely by surprise, Marcus Rashford (who would go on to make it up) lost the ball just outside England’s box and pick it was picked up by Stanislav Lobotka who drove it home, passed a stunned Hart. Thankfully, that would be all that would go past.
In the 37th minute, Rashford would send a short corner to the near post where a surprisingly graceful Eric Dier was waiting to put a foot through it. I love international breaks for one reason; you really get a good sense of how much club rivalry means to these lads. Did you see Gary Cahill and Dier embrace like they were father and son? Where’s Cat Stevens when you need him...
Aaron Cresswell was once again on the bench and that is where he would stay for the entirety of the match. We should all be glad he got the call up at all I suppose. With Danny Rose making his way back from injury it will be tough for Cresswell to make the squad in the next rotation. Hopefully, Michail Antonio will have a place! Hell, if Jake Livermore can find a way, anyone can right?
Costa Rica vs Mexico
Already qualified Mexico drew 1-1 with Costa Rica, while also spreading around the play time. Starters Javier Hernandez, Jesus Corona, and Javier Aquino all took to rest as Mexico looked to finish out their international break strong.
After an own goal put Mexico ahead early in the match, Costa Rica fought hard to salvage a point from the clash. Marco Ureña did his part to level the field in the 82nd minute, bringing Costa Rica one step closer to Russia in 2018.