SO it was quite a proud night all round for Sunderland players on international duty, and 79 was a magic number.
Fraizer Campbell naturally captured most attention, Sporting Life among many others noting that his England debut against Holland coincided with the birth of his first child.
Campbell came on as a sub on 79 minutes in the 3-2 Wembley defeat, so played a part in the exciting finale. He learned of his other new role in life after the final whistle and tweeted: “Delighted to earn my first international cap and the very same moment I became a dad to Isla rose campbell! £cloud9.”
And what about this for a headline from the land of saints and scholars: “McClean bow adds romance to often cold affair” … ?
That is how the Irish Independent summed up the highlight of Ireland’s 1-1 home draw with the Czech Republic.
Like Campbell, he had to wait 79 minutes on the bench for his introduction to international football. And the crowd were impatient for the moment …
Let the Irish Indie take up the story:
The populist cry took an age to find the ears of Giovanni Trapattoni but, when it did, it was a sound that defied resistance.
For 79 minutes, James McClean’s night was confined to the idle banter of the waiting-room. He looked unperturbed. The TV cameras kept finding his smile, a big, square-jawed kid bending the ear of Seamus Coleman as the surgery door kept opening for others to stride through.
Trapattoni doesn’t manage by public consensus and only with four substitutes already deployed did he finally call the kid down to a great, gusting gale of approval. In his 10-minute cameo, McClean would look bright, alert and keen not to disappoint his Dublin audience.
Briefly, the deities even toyed with the notion of a fairytale, his low cross almost producing an 89th-minute winner for Jonathan Walters and, four minutes later, Vaclav Pilar pushing his unhelpful posterior in the way of a McClean pile-driver.
And recovering our breath we learn from goal.com of Seb Larsson’s two-goal winning display for Sweden in Croatia:
“… a double from Sebastian Larsson after the break gave the Swedes a convincing victory.
… only a minute into the second period Samuel Holmen’s saw a shot spilled into the path of the oncoming Larsson who had no trouble sliding the ball into the net … Croatia paid the price for their overcommitment in attack as Ibrahimovic provided an immaculate through-ball for Larsson who slid home to make it 3-1 in the 70th minute.”
Sky Sport reported the poignant Gary Speed memorial in Cardiff where Wales tripped on the Costa Rica banana skin – sorry, M Salut once spent a week working there and saw virtually nothing but banana plantatations – and lost by a single goal.
Sky picked out a couple of occasions when David Vaughan put in decent corners that might have produced headed goals for Morison, one effort hitting the bar.
Stéphane Sessegnon had a longer trip, to Addis Ababa where he and his Benin colleagues held Ethiopia to a goalless draw in a 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier. A French report I saw said Benin went for the draw, leaving Sesss “et ses coéquipiers” able to look forward quite calmly to the return in June.
Phil Bardsley, of course, had to pull out of the Scotland game. Have I missed anyone else? John O’Shea and Nicklas Bendtner would have an answer to that question (see first comment) …