You know the score. Sir Alex Ferguson sends his troops out into the big bad world of international football – the vast majority of which is meaningless, boring, friendlies – and hopes they come back without injury, or too knackered to perform next weekend. With this week’s international break designated for Euro 2012 play-off fixtures, only Nani and Antonio Valencia will actually play competitive football before United takes on Swansea next weekend. Plus ça change cynics might add. Still, with only eight of Ferguson’s squad in action this week, the Scot will at least welcome a relatively fresh squad back at Carrington next Wednesday.
Fabio da Silva – Gabon 0-2 Brazil, Stade de l’Amitie, Libreville
It’s two caps for Fabio and none for twin brother Rafael after this comfortable victory for Mano Menezes’ Brazilians in the Gabonese port city. Fabio may be finding it difficult to make the United side at the moment, but he has now featured in the past three national squads, debuting against Costa Rica in October and playing the first 45 against Gabon on Friday night. Alex Sandro and Hernanes scored the goals as Brazil opened the brand new Stade de l’Amitie, which will host the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2012.
Darren Fletcher – Cyprus 1-2 Scotland, Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca
Scottish captain Fletcher played an hour as Scotland won on the road thanks to goals from Kenny Miller and returning broken leg victim Jamie Mackie. In an otherwise unspectacular performance from the Scots, two fine goals provided victory for Craig Levein’s men, who missed out on Euro 2012 qualification. Scotland will face Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Macedonia and Wales in World Cup 2014 qualification, beginning next autumn.
Nani – Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-0 Portugal, Bilino Polje, Zenica
An insipid draw places under-performing Portugal in a decent position to qualify for Euro 2012 when the sides meet in Lisbon next week. It is one of the mysteries of European football that a side containing Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and João Moutinho, among many others, did not qualify by right, although that should be corrected next week. Safet Sušić’s side wasted the best chances of a tight game through Vedad Ibišević and Edin Džeko, although United’s Nani was a consistent threat in Zenica. On this evidence it is hard to see the Bosnians recording a positive result at Estádio da Luz on Tuesday night.
Javier Hernández – Mexico 2-0 Serbia, Estadio La Corregidora, Santiago de Querétaro
He scores goals galore, he scores goals, he scores goals galore, he scores goals, er… Javier Hernández, he scores goals. The striker scored a 23rd goal for the national team in just 33 games, with an 88th minute penalty against Nemanja Vidic-less Serbia on Friday night. The 2-0 victory was the first win of new coach Jose Manuel de la Torre’s reign, with Hernández having a major role to play in both Mexican goals. Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov saw red for two bookable offences in Querétaro.
Antonio Valencia – Paraguay 2-1 Ecuador, Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
United winger Valencia ended on the losing side as Ecuador recorded a disappointing result during World Cup 2014 qualification in Asunción. Cristian Riveros and Darío Verón scored the Paraguay goals that handed victory to the hosts, and leaves Ecuador with three points from from the opening two games of qualification. With Brazil hosting World Cup 2014 just nine sides are taking part in the qualification tournament, from which Valencia’s team is not expected to proceed.
Mame Biram Diouf – Guinea 1-4 Senegal, Mantes-la-Ville, Paris
United bench-warmer Diouf scored as the Lions of Teranga recorded a comprehensive friendly win ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins in late January. Tougher challenges will come for Amara Traoré’s side – not least a friendly with Cote D’Ivoire in Paris next Tuesday – but the win is a timely boost for country, and Diouf, ahead of the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Senegal did not qualify for 2010 tournament.
Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck – England 1-0 Spain, Wembley, London
Fabio Capello’s outfit scored a remarkable victory at Wembley, even if the Spaniards secured more than 70 per cent of possession in the FA’s prestige friendly. Capello got the tactics about spot on though, seeking to stifle Spain with blanket defence, with United’s defender Jones playing an hour in a midifled holding role. Spain should have equalised through David Villa and substitute Cesc Fabregas late on, but the Italian’s side held on for a victory over last year’s World Champions.
Brazil v Egypt, Qatar, 14 November 2011
Portugal v Boznia & Herzegovina, Lisbon, 15 November 2011
Ecuador v Peru, Quito, 15 November 2011
Senegal v Cote D’Ivoire, Paris, 15 November 2011
England v Sweden, London, 15 November 2011