Spoilers: Everybody came out of this set of internationals fit and unscathed and ready to take on Stoke on Saturday. Except perhaps for Martin Skrtel, though any damage he picked up is going to be of the mental variety. In any case, September's international break is over and done with, which means no more worries about Liverpool players getting injured in borderline meaningless games. At least until this time next month…
Finland v. Netherlands
Bert Van Marwijk did his best to annoy Liverpool fans by having Dirk Kuyt play the full 90 four days after he played 76 minutes against San Marino. Luckily, Jan-Jan the Hammer Man must still be doing what he does to keep the Dutch Energizer Bunny running along at 137% week in and week out, so Kuyt—who once again played on the left for a victorious Holland—heads back to Liverpool while his country remains safely unchallenged at the top of Group E. Just as they were before the game against Finland. And before the game against San Marino, too.
Slovakia v. Armenia
It was an ugly day for Martin Skrtel and Slovakia, as the Armenian's proved they're going to have a say in who goes on to the European Championships next summer by mauling the favourites 4-0 to go level on points and twelve goals ahead of the Slovaks. Perhaps Slovakia shouldn't have entered the game as favourites, though, as in their two group matches the Armenians have now taken all six points while pumping seven goals past Slovakia and conceding only once. As Group B currently stands, Russia has 17 points and a +6 goal differential, the Republic of Ireland has 15 points and a +5 differential, Armenia has 14 points and a +10 differential, and Slovakia is on 14 points and -2. All of which means Slovakia isn't out of the running yet with two games remaining for every country, but their road is by far the toughest, especially with Armenia holding all the tiebreakers.
Denmark v. Norway
Agger captained Denmark to a 2-0 victory and came out unscathed, the latter of which being all that really concerns most Liverpool fans when it comes to the frequently physically fragile defender who has replaced Torres as the club's player most likely to be injured while on international duty. As for his country's chances of qualification in the wide open Group H, Portugal, Denmark, and Norway all stand on 13 points. However, Norway has payed one game more than the other two while also having the worst goal differential, giving the advantage to the Portuguese and Danes. If Agger and Denmark can get all three points when they play Cyprus in the first match of the October break, it will all but wrap up qualification, with a final match against Portugal four days later likely to decide who wins the group outright and who goes through to the qualification playoffs in second place.
England v. Wales
Before we got wrapped up in Dalglish responding to Capello by saying that Liverpool is happy with Andy Carroll's fitness and that his lifestyle isn't an issue, England was busy doing the double over Wales. Downing again impressed in a 1-0 victory that sees England all but mathematically guaranteed first place in the group with a game remaining and a six point, ten goal advantage on second place Montenegro who have two games left. For Wales and their exceedingly slim hopes of qualification, the loss means that they are now mathematically eliminated.
Scotland v. Lithuania
In the end it turns out that Adam's omission from the Scotland match was indeed precautionary, as he's expected to start against Stoke on the weekend. Scotland's 1-0 victory, meanwhile, has managed to move their qualification hopes from being on life support to actually not that far from the realm of possibility. They're only two points back of the second place Czechs with two games to go and with both sides set to face Spain. It's a tough task that will likely require Scotland to get some help from the Czech Republic's other opponent, Lithuania, but it's still a huge improvement over their situation before the September qualifiers when their hopes seemed mathematical at best.
Spain v. Liechtenstein
Spain won 6-0; they joined the growing list of countries that have officially qualified; Reina didn't play; no brawls broke out. So pretty much par for the course. Except for the no brawls bit. Interestingly, though, Fernando Torres found himself left out of the side entirely in favour of Alvaro Negredo. Even worse for Torres, his replacement scored a brace to leave the former Liverpool striker—who even at the top of his game never seemed a perfect fit for this Spain squad—with a doubtful future with the national team as next summer's Euros approach.
Thankfully, that wraps up the international distractions until October 7th, which already seems a date far too close for comfort. For now, though, the terror of FIFA sanctioned international friendly and qualifier action is over and it's time to get back to club football.