Wow. If France's dramatic 4-2 victory over Belarus was not enough for you, try an 84th minute winner for Austria against the Republic of Ireland, or a dominant 3-0 win for Germany over the Faroe Islands. FC Bayern München was involved in all the big festivities on Tuesday, making a jammed packed High Five.
Top Five Performances
France's comeback against Belarus turned an unbearable upset into a fantastic finish. Who was at the center of it? Why, Herr Ribéry! He did not just score two goals, no – he drained a penalty that he himself drew, and tapped in a sharp line-drive cross from Marseille man Mathieu Valbuena. While Manchester City's Samir Nasri was the one that came off the bench and scored the game-winner, and while Valbuena got credit with the assist, Ribéry was the supply, dribbling the ball in toward the left wing and setting up Valbuena. A man that was questionable coming into the match with glut soreness just left Belarus with questions on how they could not contain the UEFA Footballer of the Year.
Playing in what could be his preferred position on the right flank, Müller once again tore it up in a Germany shirt. All the definitive German chances in the penalty area came when he touched the ball. He timed a run to perfection on a breakaway attempt, ultimately resulting in a penalty and a red card for Faroe Islands defender Atli Gregersen – Arsenal's Mesut Özil drained the penalty in the bottom left corner after a staggering three-step walk-up. He also scored after his two-squad captain, Phillipp Lahm, supplied a low cross into the area and he beat goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen with a clean finish. To add, he tracked back several times when Lahm came on an overlap, quickly restoring possession before the Faroese could attack on the counter. Although his contributions came after Per Mertesacker's opening goal, it was an impressive performance nonetheless.
His right-footed finish in the 84th minute sunk the hearts of the Republic of Ireland for the second time, but this time his winner was met with big applause in front of a home Austrian crowd. Starting in attacking midfield, he was supposed to be the play-maker that would dominate the Ireland back line, but a stagnant start saw a deadlock for the first 80 minutes. Ireland really took the game to Austria, and it almost seemed as they tried to take Alaba out of the game. The strategy was relatively successful, until a top-corner right footed whack in the center of the penalty area had Alaba, and the rest of the Austrians, hollering in happiness.
Forget about the early assist off the corner from Özil for a second – one that found the right foot of Mertesacker as it seemed more like he was trying to assure the ball crossed the goal-line. Some big criticisms of Boateng – including ones that have come from me – is that with all of his athleticism, strength, and pace, he makes poor decisions and does not mark all too well. That was not the case today. The Ghanaian-German defender prevented many a counter-attack – well, when the Faroese bus was set to "drive" and not "park" – and even recovered for other players. One instance in particular occured when Faroese midfielder Christian Holst beat Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer on a cut-back at the top of the penalty area, and Boateng was there to chop down the angle early in the second half. Add the assist on a sharp header off of that corner kick – which, by the way, looked like it had the positioning to go in without a touch – and he had a great day in the heart of the German defense.
His peformance against the Faroe Islands really was just a standard game that he set for himself. With Müller playing tighter to the penalty area, he had much more room to work on the right wing on the overlap. He put a fantastic low cross that found Müller, giving him his fourth career international assist. He was never beaten defensively, although the Faroese rarely left their own penalty area to attack the right side of the field. On any given day, Lahm's performance would be top notch, but considering the drama that was Tuesday, his performance is noteworthy, but not notorious. Maybe it's just that 101 is not as cool as 100, just like birthdays lose their cool after a 21st in the States.
Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos both got the start for the Nationalelf. The Faroese rarely tested Neuer, with the Bayern goalkeeper only having to deal with three shots on goal from his opponents. Kroos started as a holding midfielder, playing alongside Real Madrid's Sami Khedira as they both shielded the back-four satisfactorily.
Xherdan Shaqiri inched closer to a World Cup appearance with Switzerland as the Swiss beat Norway 2-0. Shaqiri started on the left; he had three shots, and was involved in two other chances that were put off-target. FC Basel Fabian Schär put the load on his back, as the 21-year-old scored twice to support the Swiss victory.
Claudio Pizarro started up top once again for the Peruvians, but did not get on the score sheet as Peru lost their second of two qualifiers during this international break. José Paolo Guerrero substituted for Pizarro in the 64th minute as Venezuela beat Peru 3-1.
Dante dressed but did not play for the Seleçao as they steamrolled Portugal in an international friendly in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. One has to wonder if the 28-year-old Bayern defender is slowly losing his spot, or whether players like Paris-Saint Germain's Maxwell – who started next to David Luiz – are just getting look-ins from Luis Felipe Scolari.
Mario Mandžukić did not make the trip to South Korea in Croatia's 2-1 friendly win, while Arjen Robben's yellow card accumulation banned the Dutchman from the Oranje's 2-0 victory against Andorra. Both joined Daniel van Buyten – Belgium did not have a second international game to play – and the recovering Bastian Schweinsteiger in practice today, according to Kicker.
More from Bavarian Football Works:
- Müller, Klose, and Future Legends : Looking forward to find Germany's next legendary goalscorer
- Tuesday World Cup Qualifiers | Live Discussion Thread
- Jerome Boateng in contract talks with Bayern Munich; Toni Kroos has yet to discuss anything
- Pierre Højbjerg signs pro contract through 2016
- Franck Ribery picks up an injury with France