The last international break before the 2022 Qatar World Cup is in the books! But it must be said that it wasn’t perfect for some of our beloved Magpies who suffered some injuries around the globe or couldn’t help their nations save face.
In any case, it’s a freaking relief to have this nonsensical Nations League/Friendly rash now in the rearview mirror so the team and your very own CHN lads can focus on what matters the most: black and white football going forward.
Here’s a recap of all that went on Tuesday, September 27th, and thus the final day of the break before the Premier League comes back next Saturday with Newcastle taking on Fulham at Craven Cottage in London.
Ryan Fraser (Scotland)
Match: SCO vs Ukraine (UEFA Nations League)
After starting on the pine for the last two games, Steve Clarke decided to start Fraser for their last match of the NL group stage having already secured promotion to the top tier of the competition starting next season.
The Scottish did what they must: not lose. Thus, the no-goal draw against Ukraine in their second game in just a handful of days. Fraser played 72 minutes before getting subbed off, which we all Magpie brothers and sisters agree was the better thing to happen after all of the injuries that have ravaged Newcastle left and right.
Rest easy, Ryan, you’re a Nationals League A-Boy now while the Three Lion-Men cannot say that.
Fabian Schar (Switzerland)
Match: SWI vs Czech Republic (UEFA Nations League)
Switzerland entered their last game of the NL knowing they couldn’t win their group no matter the result of the other match. They also entered it knowing they couldn’t get relegated, with the Czech already down to the B with only four points earned in the first five games.
So, a useless game this one but the Swiss went all in and deployed Fabian Schar from the start—leaving him on the pitch for the full 90’. The man of the match, though, was Breel Embolo once more after he scored the second goal of the game to make it 2-0 and render the efforts from the Czech not many impactful.
Schar manned the defensive line with gusto and was in fact the best at the back—other than goalie Yann Sommer, of course, who saved a penalty kick by Tomas Soucek to keep his country up in the scoreboard. The most important stat to know from Schar’s performance: he made it out alive and without picking out an injury. Bullet dodged.
Jamal Lewis (Northern Ireland)
Match: NI vs Greece (UEFA Nations League)
Weak game from Lewis starting at the left-back position (because who else would...) for his nation. Poor Jamal waved goodbye to the crowd watching on location with 76 minutes on the clock and just 15 left to play and with the game nearly decided with the Greek soldiers leading 2-1 already.
Petros Mantalos added an 80-minute banger to make it 3-1 and... change nothing in the group as Kosovo (of course) defeated Cyprus by a score of 5-1. Third position in the final table for the Northern Irish lads who will stay in the third tier of the Nations League.
Not much more to say.
Miguel Almirón (Paraguay)
Match: PAR vs Morocco (International Friendly)
Another start for the Paraguayan Kid Miggy Almirón who can’t stop racking up caps with his nation. This was a very tamed friendly in which a draw was always reasonable and nobody was surprised by the final outcome. Happens to the better of South Americans trying to fill their free time during international breaks used for UEFA Nations League purposes.
Another man flying back to St James’ Park healthy and ready to start next weekend (in London) assuming Howe doesn’t go crazy and decides to use Isak—if available—on the wing and Wilson upfront, nor bonkers deciding to play two strikers and... Scottish Lad Ryan Fraser on the right!?