Bundesliga players again represented nations around the globe on a busy weekend of Euro qualifiers and friendly matches. Two Bundesliga stars scored twice for their national teams, while a trio from Dortmund led their country to a win over Argentina.
Friday’s Euro qualifier between Austria and Germany saw FC Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez net the first goal of the contest and score the winner at the end to maintain Germany’s perfect record in qualifying for the 2012 European tournament. Gomez’ last minute winner came courtesy of a great long pass by defender Philipp Lahm. The Bayern Munich striker led the Bundesliga in scoring this past season with 28 league goals. Austria’s only score came on an own goal by Arne Friedrich in the 50th minute. Hannover’s Emmanuel Pogatetz, VfB Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik, Mainz’ Christian Fuchs, Erwin Hoffer who played on loan from Napoli with 1.FC Kaiserslautern and David Alaba, the 1899 Hoffenheim loanee from FC Bayern Munich, all started for Austria.
Also on Friday, Croatia scored a 2-1 win over Georgia, who led 1-0 at halftime. But VfL Wolfsburg forward Mario Mandzukic equalized for the Croatians in the 76th minute, and Nikola Kalinic scored the game-winner two minutes later. Bayern Munich’s Danijel Pranjec started in Croatia’s midfield along with newly-signed Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ivan Perisic, who led the Belgian Jupiler League in scoring in 2010-2011 with 22 goals. Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery played the entire 90 for France in their disappointing 1-1 draw with Belarus.
Stuttgart’s Ciprian Marica scored twice to lead Romania to a 3-0 shutout of Bosnia-Herzegovinia. The Bosnian squad, under fire by FIFA recently, were unable to score despite the presence of Hoffenheim’s Vedad Ibisevic and former Wolfsburg forward Edin Dzeko.
Hannover’s Mikael Forssell received little first-team play for the 96ers as their season went on, and is reportedly leaving the side this summer, but is still an international threat as he scored the lone goal in Finland’s 1-0 victory over San Marino Friday. Meanwhile, Timmy Simons of 1. FC Nurnberg started and played the entire 90 in their 1-1 draw with Turkey. Simons played all 34 Bundesliga matches for Der Club this season. Werder Bremen newcomer Mehmet Ekici, the former Bayern Munich player who played on loan with the 1.FC Nurnberg this year, came on as a sub for Guus Hiddinck’s Turkish team. And Slovenia defeated the Faroe Islands 2-0, with FC Koln’s Milivoje Novakovic starting on the front line.
On Saturday, Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Tranquillo Barnetta led his Swiss teammates to a 2-2 draw with England. Barnetta opened the scoring against the Group G co-leaders with a goal in the 32nd minute, and added a second three minutes later to put the Swiss up 2-0. Frank Lampard struck a penalty kick shortly afterwards, and England equalized on an Ashley Young strike early in the second half. Barnetta equaled his 2010-2011 goal total in 24 matches for the Champions League-bound Werkself in the draw. Joining him in former Bayern Munich manager’s Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Swiss starting eleven were Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio and Leverkusen attacker Eren Derdiyok.
Israel earned an important 2-1 win over Latvia to stay within a point of first-place Greece in Group F. Almog Cohen started and played the entire 90 for the victorious Israelis who got goals from Yossi Benayoun and Tal Ben-Haim. Greece maintained their lead with a victory over Malta 3-1. Nineteen year-old Schalke defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos scored the Greeks’ second goal of the match.
The presence of Hoffenheim’s talented attacker Gylfi Sigurdsson in the starting midfield for Iceland wasn’t enough to prevent a 2-0 loss to Denmark in Group H. The Danes had Mainz’ veteran Bo Svensson and young Simon Kjaer of Wolfsburg on their starting backline. Denmark now shares a three-way tie for Group H leadership with Portugal and Norway, as the Portuguese scored a 1-0 win over Norway despite the efforts of Hannover’s Moa Abdellaoue, who entered the match at the hour mark subbing for Norwegian veteran John Carew. Mainz’ veteran defender Nikolce Noveski started for Macedonia in their 2-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland, with Robbie Keane scoring both goals for the Irish.
What looked to be an enticing friendly between the Netherlands and Brazil ended as a 0-0 draw. Hamburg SV defender Joris Mathijsen and Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben started for the Dutch squad, while Mathijsen’s teammate Eljero Elia and Schalke’s Klaas–Jan Huntelaar appeared as substitutes. In a heralded tuneup match for the U.S.A.’s Gold Cup tournament, the Americans fell far short to a dominant Spain, losing 4-0 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Schalke’s Jermaine Jones, loaned to Blackburn Rovers, was the only starter with Bundesliga experience in the American lineup, but he was replaced in the second half by Aston Villa loanee Michael Bradley of Borussia Monchengladbach. Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo also came into the match in the second half as American Coach Bob Bradley gave some inexperienced players the start against the outstanding Spanish squad. Jonathan Spector, rumored to be sought by Hannover from West Ham United, also started for the Americans.
Earlier in the week, Canada drew 2-2 with Ecuador at Toronto’s BMO Field. FC Koln’s Kevin McKenna gained his 50th international cap in the friendly. The Canadian national team will compete in the same group as the USMNT in the Gold Cup, and meet on June 7 in Detroit. FC Augsburg’s Marcel de Jong and Nik Ledgerwood of SV Wehen Wiesbaden started and played the entire game for the Canadians, and Hertha Berlin’s Rob Friend came on right before the hour mark.
South Korea dropped Serbia 2-1 in an international friendly. Serbian starters included Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic and Stuttgart’s Zdravko Kuzmanovic.
The Polish national team, led by Borussia Dortmund stars Jakub Blaszczyowski, Robert Lewandowski and Lukasz Piszczek, defeated a young Argentina squad 2-1 at the National Stadion in Silesia Sunday. Piszczek, who normally plays right back for Jurgen Klopp, started upfront for the Eagles of Poland. Pawel Brozek provided the winner in the 66th minute for the Poles. Argentina fielded a ‘B’ team without stars such as Lionel Messi as they prepare to host the Copa America tournament in July. But still, a big win for the white and red of Poland.