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Internationals Recap: England U21s Advance While Uruguay Struggle

England's match against Poland was postponed until Wednesday due to weather and a poor pitch, but elsewhere there was plenty of action to keep track of on a tough day for Liverpool's internationals.

Srdjan Stevanovic - Getty Images
Serbia U21 0(0), England U21 1(2)

Stuart Pearce's England U21 side advanced to next year's U21 European Championship finals in Israel by nursing a 1-0 lead—earned thanks to a spot of diving/bravery in the first leg—through ninety minutes against Serbia. Jordan Henderson impressed as captain, putting in a strong ninety minute performance in a largely holding role as England spent much of the match with eight or nine players camped inside their own penalty area while Serbia pressed to overcome their first-leg disadvantage.

Despite outplaying England, the breakthrough never came for the hosts, and when Connor Wickham walked the ball into the open goal with the final touch of the match while Serbia's goalkeeper struggled to get back from a spot kick deep in England's end, it looked like the end of the story. Unfortunately, all that had gone before was quickly overshadowed by a series of ugly post-match incidents.

First there Wickham's unsporting and excessive celebration, leading to shoving between the two sides that quite nearly devolved into a brawl. Then things got even uglier when the Serbian fans aimed monkey chants at England's Danny Rose, leading to an angry response from the player that earned him a second yellow card on the night from a referee who appeared oblivious to what was going on in the stands.

Croatia 2, Wales 0

Joe Allen started for Wales and held his own for ninety minutes, but the Group A underdogs couldn't keep things going after their 2-1 win on Friday against Scotland. After a rough start to qualification, that earlier win had given Wales just a sliver of hope that their hopes of reaching Brazil weren't already over, but today's defeat once again puts the Welsh at the back of the pack. It may still be early, but with three early loses in a strong group with Belgium, Serbia, and Croatia—all of whom have handled the Welsh with relative ease so far—it appears their chances of appearing in the final are already gone.

Italy 3, Denmark 1

With Fabio Borini back in Liverpool with his broken foot, it was a convincing display from Italy as they outclassed a Danish side captained by Daniel Agger. Agger found himself the latest centre back unable to cope with Mario Balotelli, with the Italian striker once again lively on international duty. A red card for Italy's Osvaldo in the 46th minute gave Denmark a lifeline while down two goals to one, but soon afterwards Balotelli scored Italy's third and the hosts were able to sit back while an increasingly desperate Denmark struggled—and failed—to break through their defence.

Hungary 3, Turkey 1

Nuri Sahin was given a rare start for Turkey, but it wasn't anything to celebrate for Liverpool's loanee from Madrid as the visitors dropped their second match in a row and now find themselves near the bottom of Group D. On paper at least Turkey seem likely to at least advance to a playoff behind group favourites Netherlands, but back to back loses to Romania on Friday and now Hungary have put that in doubt. Turkey at least scored first on Tuesday night, going ahead in the 22nd minute thanks to Mevlut Erdinc, but less than ten minutes later Hungary levelled and from then on the hosts always looked the more likely side.

Slovakia 0, Greece 1

The good news is that after being helped off the pitch on Friday, Martin Skrtel was healthy enough to start for Slovakia. The bad news is that a second half marker from Greece's Dimitris Salpingidis means the hosts drop to third in Group G behind the Greeks and a surprising Bosnia-Herzegovina, who lead the group after demolishing Liechtenstein, Latvia, and Lithuania by a combined score of 15-2 and drawing Greece on the road. If they can keep up their current pace, a group that Slovakia looked favourites to advance from could quickly become far more difficult.

Spain 1, France 1

Pepe Reina was on the bench for what looked to be the biggest UEFA qualifier of the night but until the final minutes hardly seemed a contest as Spain overwhelmed a French side that appeared to have no answer. Spain, though, couldn't extend an early one goal lead when Laurent Koscielny hacked down Pedro for a clear penalty, with Cesc Fabregas' tame effort stopped by Hugo Lloris. Lloris made a number of good saves following his penalty stop to keep France in the match, and then in the 94th minute Olivier Giroud headed home to salvage an unlikely point for France.

Bolivia 4, Uruguay 1

With one win and one draw to go along with three losses in 2012, it might be time to stop thinking of Uruguay as the defending Copa America champions and South American favourites and accept that as things stand today they face the very real chance of missing out on the 2014 World Cup. Yes, a trip to La Paz is always difficult, and as the match wore on the altitude clearly began to drain the Uruguayans, but the sad truth for the darkhorse darlings of the last World Cup is that as the latest in a string of disappointing results in 2012, Tuesday's loss can hardly be called an outlier.

Despite Uruguay's injury troubles in defence and expectations he would start, Sebastian Coates could only make the bench. Luis Suarez, though, played the full ninety minutes, finding himself largely isolated with Uruguay's midfield invisible and the defence embracing the long ball. If somebody had suggested last year that Uruguay could miss the 2014 World Cup most would have laughed. With South American qualification now half over, that suddenly seems a very real possibility.

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