International Roundup: England bore fans, while Argentina lose to Paraguay

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International Roundup: England bore fans, while Argentina lose to Paraguay

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SportsCafe Desk

10/12/2016

World Champions Germany were handed an easy 2-0 win against Northern Ireland in their Group C tie of World Cup Qualifiers, while England, coached by Gareth Southgate, were able to settle for a goalless draw in Slovenia. Meanwhile, a Messi-less Argentina slumped to defeat against Paraguay on Tuesday.

Easy pickings for Germany

Germany maintained their 100 per cent record in Group C after strolling to a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Northern Ireland in Hannover on Tuesday. Following their impressive 3-0 win over Czech Republic on Saturday, Joachim Loew's men were high on confidence as they outclassed the Irish from the get go.

Wolfsburg's Julian Draxler, who was in the starting XI for injured Mario Gomez, fired the World Champions into the lead in the 13th minute. Four minutes later, midfielder Sami Khedira headed home, and it was enough to put the game to bed as Northern Ireland hardly threatened on the offensive.

England's struggles continue

After the controversial sacking of Sam Allardyce, England looked lacklustre under interim manager Gareth Southgate as their trip to Slovenia ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Southgate's decision to drop captain Wayne Rooney from the starting XI did little to improve things for the Three Lions and they had goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for saving the match by not conceding a goal.

Hart, currently on loan at Torino from Manchester City, rescued England on several occasions with a string of superb saves including a swerving drive from Jasmin Kurtic a few minutes into the second half. Daniel Sturridge's shot off a Dele Alli through ball pass late into the second half was the only good chance England had in the entire match as Rooney's introduction in the 70th minute did not help their cause. Despite the draw, England remain top of Group F in the qualifying campaign.

No Messi, No Party

Meanwhile in the South American qualifiers, Argentina dearly missed captain Lionel Messi as the Albiceleste suffered their first home defeat in a World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, losing 1-0 in Cordoba. After being initially tested by Edgardo Bauza's men, Paraguay took the lead with a superb counter-attacking goal by Derlis Gonzalez as Argentina's attack looked lacklustre.

Having declared himself fit after sustaining a calf injury during training, Sergio Aguero failed to make an impact as his spot-kick in the 47th minute was saved by Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar. With the defeat, Argentina have taken just six points out of a possible 18 on offer without their talisman Lionel Messi, by just scoring four and conceding six.

While Argentina struggled without their talisman, their South American rivals Brazil cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Venezuela without suspended Neymar to move to the top of the World Cup qualifying standings. Brazil's in-form forward Gabriel Jesus put them in the front with a crisp first-half finish, while Chelsea's Willian secured the points eight minutes after the interval as Brazil jumped a point clear of Uruguay.

Among other qualifiers, Martin Skrtel-led Slovakia thumped Scotland 3-0 as Robert Mak's double secured their first win of 2018 World Cup qualifying in Trnava.  

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