Shay Given’s hopes of making it to the World Cup next summer hang by a thread after a cruel piece of luck late on against France on Saturday night.
The City stopper and his Irish team mates had repelled everything Thierry Henry and friends could throw at them until Nicolas Anelka’s shot in the 72nd minute took a wicked deflection off St Ledger, hit the post and dropped into into Given’s net. The second leg is on Wednesday night.
England’s starting XI against Brazil in Doha boasted four City players, but Bridge, Lescott, Barry and SWP's efforts on a warm night in the Middle East were in vain with the samba boys securing a one-goal win through Nilmar’s header.
Nigel de Jong and Carlos Tevez were both booked in their friendlies against Italy and Spain respectively. Further afield, Emmanuel Adebayor captained Togo in their 1-0 win over Gabon, but their hopes of making it to South Africa have already gone. He and Kolo Toure, who did not play for the Ivory Coast last night, can now look ahead to the African Cup of Nations in January.
Micah Richards also donned the captain’s armband on Saturday, leading England’s Under 21 side to a narrow win over Portugal at Wembley.