The last international break before the 2022 Qatar World Cup has arrived. It sucks because that means there is no Magpie football going, but it also does not suck, because that means there is Magpie football just around the corner, and oh, that also means that there are some International Magpies worth writing about!
Anyway, here’s a recap of all that went on Saturday, September 24th, with more updates to come in the following days as games keep getting played.
Ryan Fraser (Scotland)
Match: SCO vs Republic of Ireland (UEFA Nations League)
RyRy got into the game off the pine, as he usually does, and helped Scotland in holding off the Republic of Ireland and nearly securing their promotion to the first tier of the UEFA Nations League—all Scotland needs is a draw against Ukraine next Tuesday and they’ll get that accomplishment.
Scotland had to come from behind after surrending an 18th-minute goal. Nothing happened in the first half other than that and the injury of one of the most valuable players for the Scottish, who left the field right before the halftime.
Fraser entered the pitch in the 59th minute with Scotland having already leveled the game in the 49th (Jack Hendry) and stayed on the pitch until the final whistle as Ryan Christie scored from the penalty spot in the 82nd and sealed the victory for the Scottish international squad.
Fabian Schar (Switzerland)
Match: SWI vs Spain (UEFA Nations League)
No minutes for Schar against Spain on Saturday’s game with the defender sitting the full 90 minutes and resting ahead of his final game of the international break next Tuesday against the Czech Republic.
Schar was fit and ready to play by it was coach Murat Yakin’s decision to leave him on the bench in favor of Nico Elvedi (atrocious performance) and Manuel Akanji (man of the match and goalscorer).
The Swiss side went ahead on the scoreboard with an effort by Manuel Akanji in the 21st minute of the first half. Spain reacted after the break with Jordi Alba bringing the match to a tie, but it was Breel Embolo—assisted by MOTM Akanji—who decided the game just three minutes later in the 58th with what would turn out to be the final goal of the match.
Switzerland was trying to avoid relegation and sits now third with 6 points ahead of the Czech Republic with 4. A draw would suffice for the Swiss to avoid relegation and a victory—along with a draw or defeat from Spain against Portugal next week—could see them trump Spain in their group’s table.
Jamal Lewis (Northern Ireland)
Match: NI vs Kosovo (UEFA Nations League)
Norther Ireland played the minnows from Kosovo and went away with a victory in their NL game on Saturday. Jamal Lewis started at left back but left the game by the 77th minute with his side down 0-1.
It wasn’t until the very last minute (92nd) that Northern Ireland could score the final goal of the game to get themselves the victory. Goals by Vedat Muriqi (58th) and Gavin Whyte (82nd) happened before the final effort from Josh Magennis right at the verge of the final whistle unbalanced the score and lifted his team over Kosovo’s.
It’s a three-team battle for the second place of the NL group (Greece has already won it; 12 points in five games) with Kosovo leading the way having 6 points and both Cyprus and Northern Ireland tied at 5 points. Northern Ireland plays group-leader Greece in the last match of the international break in two days.