Whether he likes it or not, Jordan Henderson continues drawing Steven Gerrard parallels, this time by donning the captain’s armband for England. Hendo played the full 90 minutes in the scoreless draw away to Slovenia, a result that was good enough to keep the Three Lions two points clear on the top of their qualifying group. He was joined by Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge, who was subbed off after the 81st minute for Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford.
Considering the recent drama surrounding the 67-day stint as England boss Sam Allardyce, and his sudden and unexpected care-taker replacement, Gareth Southgate, a home win and an away draw for the World Cup qualifiers have to be seen as good results.
Across the pond, Brazil traveled to Venezuela to continue their World Cup qualifying campaign. Philippe Coutinho started the match, but was taken off after 83 minutes. The magical unicorn did not contribute to either of Brazil’s goals in the 2-0 victory. Roberto Firmino was an unused substitute.
Although both Coutinho and Willian started the match, this was not the case the last time out against Bolivia, a match in which Phil scored a goal and provided an assist to Firmino. According to Brazil’s manager Tite, Coutinho is ahead of the Chelsea star in the pecking order.
“Why Coutinho instead of Willian?” Tite explained, “There’s a reason he is called the Magician [by Liverpool fans]. It was a difficult decision for me, but right now this is Coutinho’s moment. And in football, you have to follow the moment.”
The pair of wins takes Brazil to the top of the brutal CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table.
So, that wraps up the dreaded international break without any additional injuries. Next up: Manchester United.