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World Cup highs and lows

Craig Bellamy Ireland International February 2009

Craig Bellamy Ireland International February 2009

There were plenty of air miles clocked up by City players this weekend but thankfully for boss Mark Hughes many of his men were spared potentially bruising action.

Striker Carlos Tevez was left sat on the bench for Argentina as Diego Maradona’s Argentina boosted their hopes of avoiding an embarrassing visit to the World Cup play-offs thanks to a 2-1 win over Peru.

Meanwhile, England’s team was a Blues free zone with Gareth Barry and Wayne Bridge amongst the unused subs during the defeat in Ukraine. Shaun Wright-Phillips was a spectator.

City skipper Kolo Toure was, metaphorically, left kicking his sore heel at home but he had every reason to celebrate as his Ivorian teammates, unbeaten in their qualifying group, drew with Malawi 1-1 (Drogba scored the goal) and booked their place in the finals in South Africa next summer.

However, Emmanuel Adebayor’s hopes of joining his teammate at football’s biggest Jamboree receded  hugely after Togo were beaten 3-0 by group favourites Cameroon. Manu was subbed after an hour of the game. There is no news yet on any injury.

Craig Bellamy has known for some time that he will not be going to South Africa this summer, at least not to play for Wales, but he continued his wonderful scoring form by grabbing his country’s equaliser against Finland’s old timers.

At 30-years-old the Blues striker was the senior man in John Toshack’s side but he would have been one of the youngest in the opposition ranks whose experience finally paid off in a 2-1 success.

Elsewhere, Shay Given’s latest World Cup campaign will be extended to the play-offs after the Republic of Ireland were twice pegged back – the second time in the final minute - by Italy to draw 2-2 in Dublin. Former City youth team starlet Glenn Whelan scored a cracker for the Irish but it wasn’t enough to stop the Italians from booking their spot in the finals.

The good news for Given and company was that the threat to their second spot in the group evaporated when a Bulgaria side containing Martin Petrov was hammered 4-1 by Cyprus in Larnaca.

 It was not a great night, either, for Vladimir Weiss who picked up a yellow card as Slovakia lost at home 2-0 to Slovenia.

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