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By Sam Lyon
2230: So 2010 will be remembered as something of an annus horribilis for England won't it? Fabio Capello's boys end their year on a pretty similar note to the way they ended their disastrous World Cup - limply. Plenty for the Italian, his staff and the England players to reflect on before they resume their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign next year then. Before then, though, we can all cozy back up to the Premier League - starting with this weekend. I'll be your host again for that, starting with the small matter of Arsenal v Tottenham - don't miss a thing, I reckon it might just get a little bit tasty. See ya.
shinydh on Twitter:
"What we may have really learned tonight is that England's strength in depth is not what we might hope. Starting XI still OK."
Andrew via text: "Re 2218: I'm quite confident that Capello's "greater inexperience" line is not supported by the facts."
ENGLAND 1-2 FRANCE Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at Wembley: "England's late rally - consisting of a series of high balls belted towards the France penalty area - must not disguise the gulf between the two sides. France fully deserved to win, boos from those left inside Wembley, and a night of very few positives for Fabio Capello."
Adam via text: "Re: Jack from Norwich - I reckon he could have played..."
Zidanepirouette on 606:
"It's a friendly game, it means nothing. No one will remember this result by the time the next qualifier comes around, so everyone calm down."
2218: More from England coach Fabio Capello: "When the best England players are fit, we are still a very good team. Every time I read the newspapers, they say 'pick the young players, pick the young players'. Well today I did and now you want to talk about the result. Young players need senior players around them, experience at this level is very important. You can't compare this team with France, the inexperience is far greater in our side than in theirs."
2215: England coach Fabio Capello: "This is the best England team I could select at the moment. It was important for me to have a look at a couple of young players - and it's important for the future, for me to know the value of the young players. Only in matches like this can you assess them, to see what they can do. In the first half we didn't play, we didn't press them enough, but in the second half it was better. I'm happy with Andy Carroll's performance - I understand he's a very good player for the future. And I will look again at the youngsters in [England's next match in] February, for sure."
2211: England captain Rio Ferdinand: "We can do better, we didn't play until the last 15 minutes and it's a bit disappointing. We didn't play to our strengths, didn't retain possession and there are things to work on when we next meet up. There's room for improvement."
Internationals (and FA Cup) Ian: "A final round-up - results we have still to give you include Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland completing their 3-1 win over Ivory Coast, Sweden and Germany drawing 0-0, Northern Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifying group opponents Slovenia losing 2-1 at home to Georgia, Netherlands beating Turkey 1-0 and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech saving a penalty as the Czech Republic drew 0-0 in Denmark. In the FA Cup Luton beat Corby 4-2 to earn a second round trip to Charlton."
dyne on 606:
"Typical England fans get totally carried away with one result. So you played bad? How many of the players who started tonight are actually gonna be in England first team in a competitive match. Gerrard, maybe Walcott, maybe Ferdinand, that's pretty much it. Don't think you can read a whole lot into this performance."
Jack in Norwich via text: "Harry Redknapp anyone?"
NORTHERN IRELAND 1-1 MOROCCO Lyle Jackson reports: "A late penalty by Rory Patterson rescues a draw for Northern Ireland in their friendly against Morocco."
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1-2 NORWAY James Boylan reports: "Morten Gamst Pedersen inspires Norway to victory over a Republic side who took the game to the visitors but ultimately failed to take their chances and defended nervously."
hugrrr on 606:
"Well played France, taught us a lesson in our own back yard. Capello's line-up and tactics were poor - very poor."
Paul from London via text: "People can say all they like about Crouchy, but you have to admire his international record!"
sharksarecool on Twitter:
"Typical England, too little too late. Maybe waiting 70 minutes before producing a decent cross wasn't such a good idea."
2157: Don't let that late flurry - nor the scoreline - fool you, England were poor and France very good tonight. Much work to do for Fabio Capello and his staff on that evidence.
2156: FULL-TIME England 1-2 France
2155: All right then, maybe not.
2152: Half a chance for Jay Bothroyd now as he gets up to meet Adam Johnson's cross, but he can't generate enough power and Hugo Lloris saves. A sense of something, something happening late on.
2151: Adam Johnson gets free on the right and should really cut it back to the unmarked Jay Bothroyd on the edge of the area, but goes for goal instead and it's blocked.
2150: We'll have five minutes of added time - England building a head of steam too.
lloyd_t on Twitter:
"I can't believe it's taken 85 minutes for England to put a properly decent cross in."
2147: For the record, England have never been beaten at Wembley under Fabio Capello. Can they pull this one out of the fire? They have less than five minutes of normal time to do so.
England goal: He's been on the field less than a minute and Peter Crouch has got England back in it, volleying Ashley Young's corner into the roof of the net at the back post. It takes his international goalscoring record to 22 goals in 42 games.
Internationals (and FA Cup) Ian: "Former Football League side York write another chapter in their impressive FA Cup history as they stun League Two play-off hopefuls Rotherham 3-0 in their FA Cup first round replay to set up a trip to Blue Square Bet Premier neighbours Darlington in round two."
2144: Bad news for England and Liverpool - Steven Gerrard looks like he's done his hamstring in making a tackle and will be replaced by Peter Crouch.
2143: Just as England start to build some momentum, Samir Nasri gets on the ball for France, powers into the England box, and slams a shot at goal - the ball rattling Ben Foster's post and away. The Arsenal man has been excellent.
2140: Good work by Adam Johnson down the right and when Hugo Lloris spills his low cross it looks like Steven Gerrard will slam home a reply, but the France keeper recovers well enough to make the Liverpool midfielder rush his shot and it flies wide.
2135: England starting to rally with 15 minutes on the clock, but a couple of desperate scramble inside the France box aside the hosts still struggling to string a move of note together.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at Wembley: "England's performance has not been well received by the Wembley crowd of 85,494. If these are two countries in recovery after shambolic World Cup campaigns, it appears France's rehabilitation is a lot further advanced than England's."
Northern Ireland goal: Josh McQuoid, making his international debut after successive hat-tricks for Bournemouth is wrestled to the ground by Moroccan defender Rachid Soulaimani while Northern Ireland take a corner. Rory Patterson steps up to the spot and drills his shot down the middle as the keeper dives to his right.
Republic of Ireland goal: Morten Gamst Pedersen again undoes Ireland - the Irish rearguard is left mesmerised by a beautiful sweeping counter-attack and when the ball finds the Blackburn man out wide he picks out Erik Huseklepp in the area, who slots home with ease. Superb goal.
2132: Moments after Andy Carroll heads Steven Gerrard's cross straight at France keeper Hugo Lloris, the Newcastle man is replaced by Cardiff striker and leading scorer in the Championship Jay Bothroyd. Kieran Gibbs is replaced by Stephen Warnock.
2130: GOALFLASH Republic of Ireland 1-2 Norway (Huseklepp)
2129: The official Wembley attendance is in... 85,494. Hardy effort, barely rewarded, by England's supporters. Meanwhile, Loic Remy and Alou Diarra come on to replace Matheiru Valbuena and Karim Benzema for France.
Internationals (and FA Cup) Ian: "Final whistles are going all round the globe as tonight's feast of international friendlies draw steadily to a close. Italy have drawn 1-1 with Romania in Austria, England's Euro 2012 group opponents Switzerland have been held to a 2-2 draw by Ukraine, who co-host those finals with Poland, who lead Ivory Coast 3-1 going into injury-time. Meanwhile we have a shock in the cards in the FA Cup as Blue Square Bet Premier side York lead League Two high-flyers Rotherham 3-0 - the same score by which Luton lead Corby in the other replay."
2126: Adam Johnson fancies his chances with a 25-yard free-kick. He is wrong to, though, as he plants his effort harmlessly over the bar.
2124: England probably aren't going to out-play France on the floor in this match, but they'll certainly be a threat from set-pieces... and Steven Gerrard, creeping behind the French defence at the back post, plants a tricky header from Adam Johnson's bouncing free-kick over keeper Hugo Lloris - but on to the bar. By far the closest England have come.
2122: Memo to France from the England team... "Erm, can we have our ball back please?"
2117: Over in Dublin, Wolves right-back Kevin Foley replaces Darren O'Dea - so no senior international debut for Everton's in-form right-side raider Seamus Coleman yet, at least.
France goal: Different gravy. France again put together a move of real quality, starting inside their own half and ending with Bacary Sagna's cross being swept into the corner on the volley by Mathieu Valbuena. No less than the visitors deserve.
2115: GOALFLASH England 0-2 France (Valbuena)
2113: Almost a fine England move as Kieran Gibbs slips Steven Gerrard in behind the left-back of France, but the Liverpool midfielder attempts to cut back on to his right foot instead of use his left, allowing Mamadou Sakho to clear. Shame.
Internationals Ian: "The night's final game gets under way as Portugal entertain neighbours Spain in a match which aims to promote their joint bid to host the 2018 World Cup."
2110: I'm sorry to say this, but Jordan Henderson is a little lost out there at Wembley. Yoann Gourcuff, however, is not and his surging run sets up a crossing chance for Bacary Sagna, the ball deflected behind for a corner that comes to nothing.
2109: With Giovanni Trapatonni admitting Robbie Keane's lack of starts at Tottenham is a concern, Shane Long has done his cause no harm at all tonight, and the Reading man again does well to muscle himself an opening only to give Norway keeper Jon Knudsen an easy save. Moments later, Aiden McGeady is bereft of composure to snatch wide from the edge of the area. More lively fare this half.
2108: Micah Richards immediately into the action as he powers down England's right, but his low cross is cut out by the France defence.
2106: So then, it's a triple substitution for England at the start of the second half, with Micah Richards on for Rio Ferdinand (with Phil Jagielka going to centre-back), Ashley Young on for Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson replacing Theo Walcott. France take off Philippe Mexes and send on Mamadou Sakho.
2105: A few England changes to tell you about in a bit, but we're back under way at Wembley.
2103: What a strike that is, Moroccan midfielder Adil Hermach crashing a stunning effort at goal from all of 40 yards and home keeper Alan Blayney making some amends for his earlier error by tipping it instinctively on to the bar.
Morocco goal: Disastrous introduction for Northern Ireland keeper Alan Blayney - his attempted clearance flying straight into the boot of onrushing Arsenal man Marouane Chamakh and the ball flying into the hosts' net.
2055: Republic keeper Shay Given saves twice in quick succession from Erik Huseklepp, who, first, gets in behind Darren O'Dea only to shoot straight at the Manchester City man. Then, as the panic continues in the Irish defence, Brann forward Huseklepp blasts low at Given from outside the area.
Ameobi's_Zeppelin on 606:
"England's wide players keep coming inside, no-one is putting in crosses to Carroll. Pointless playing him as a lone striker, if the team is set out to not even give him the ball - except for the odd hoof-ball from defence..."
2052: Half-time substitute Aiden McGeady, who replaces Liam Lawrence, feeds Shane Long but the Reading striker's powerful rising strike from the right-hand-side of the penalty area is palmed away by Norway goalkeeper Jon Knutsen. Kevin Doyle also makes way at the interval to give Stoke's Jonathan Walters his first senior cap.
2051: Some half-time substitutions to tell you about for Northern Ireland, by the way, with Michael O'Connor, Rory McArdle, Josh McQuoid and keeper Alan Blayney on to replace Brunt, Hughes, McCourt and Tuffey.
2050: HALF-TIME England 0-1 France Chief football writer Phil McNulty's
HT snap-shot: "The jeers ringing around Wembley say it all. England can consider themselves lucky to be only one behind considering the gulf in technique and approach between the sides. Andy Carroll has at least shown willing in a very one-sided half."
2049: And we're back up and running in the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland matches.
2049: That's half-time at Wembley. Boos ensue.
2048: England are putting on such a show for the Wembley crowd, the supporters are currently engaged in a... Mexican Wave. Seriously.
Russell Moore on 606:
"It was 41 minutes before England's first cross. What's the point of having a man who wins everything in the air if you never get it wide? I hear Beckham's still going..."
2046: Another James Milner burst at the French defence falters and the visitors respond by playing keep-ball. Samir Nasri, in particular, is having a fabulous match.
2043: Cliche alert - he's got good feet for a big man, Andy Carroll. The Newcastle frontman, just about as impressive as anyone for England, skips around a couple of French tacklers but can't keep the ball at his feet and it runs away from him into France keeper Hugo Lloris's arms.
Internationals (and FA Cup) Ian: "Few half-times to tell you about - there are no goals in the international friendlies between Sweden and Germany, Netherlands and Turkey, Austria and Greece, South Africa and USA and Slovenia and Georgia while Ivory Coast are drawing 1-1 in Poland. In the FA Cup Luton lead Corby 2-0 while it is goalless between York and Rotherham."
2039: England just starting to settle down a bit, now, but you can't help but feel France are just enjoying a spot of time out. The hosts' passing is still far too wayward - and while Andy Carroll is certainly winning more than his fair share of ball up front, all that has meant is England are resorting to the long ball time and again. Concerning.
2038: HALF-TIME Republic of Ireland 1-1 Norway James Boylan's HT snap-shot: "A sparsely-populated Aviva Stadium is witness to a largely dull if evenly-matched affair, illuminated by pockets of neat football and, in particular, Morten Gamst Pedersen's classy free-kick goal."
2037: HALF-TIME: Northern Ireland 0-0 Morocco Lyle Jackson's HT snap-shot: "Morocco have had the best chances against a young Northern Ireland who have not had an effort on target"
TJVillan on 606:
"We're just not getting a hold on the game. Jagielka just drifting inside to his natural position the whole time, Walcott not helping him out. Henderson (sadly looks a little to early for him) and Barry not getting a hold on the game at all. Gerrard not getting in the game. No crosses coming in to Carroll. The balance of the team just seems all wrong."
2034: The half-time whistle blows in the matches at Windsor Park and the Aviva Stadium.
2033: Better, though, again from England. It's typically English, Andy Carroll's nod down from a ball from deep swished on the half-volley goalwards by Steven Gerrard 18 yards out, but it's well over.
2033: Back in the Republic of Ireland-Norway match, Thorstein Helstad cannot capitalise on a fortunate deflection that sends him through on goal with only Shay Given to beat - the Le Mans striker volleying straight into the Manchester City man's arms.
2032: France bounce straight up the other end, pass England dizzy, and Karim Benzema gets free in the box... only to skew well wide.
2031: Half an opportunity for England but they're picking off scraps at the moment. Andy Carroll's flick finds James Milner in space, but with Theo Walcott screaming for a cross to the back post, the Man City man slams low straight at the keeper. Hhmmm.
Brent via text: "New players but same old England. Aimless hoofball while the opposition passes and moves."
2027: England are making France look like peak-time Barcelona out there. Karim Benzema works the exact same move with Samir Nasri as he did for his goal and only a last-ditch Rio Ferdinand block (again) keeps England just one down.
2025: Similarly over in Ireland, Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic side are chasing shadows as Norway really click their passing game into gear. Nervy times.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at Wembley:"No wonder Gerard Houllier says he would take Karim Benzema to Aston Villa tomorrow. France's sharp start is rewarded with a goal from the Real Madrid star. England simply haven't got to grips with this and Laurent Blanc's side look very impressive."
2023: England are being schooled in their own back yard right now, and only a recovery-block from Rio Ferdinand after he had been turned inside and out by Florent Malouda keeps the hosts in it. Fabio Capello's men couldn't find a team-mate with a torch and a map right now.
Internationals (and FA Cup) Ian: "Few goals and incidents to update you on. Italy are now losing 1-0 to Romania in their friendly in Austria while Switzerland, who are in England's Euro 2012 qualifying group, lead Ukraine 1-0. Earlier Ipswich striker Tamas Priskin scored Hungary's first goal in their 2-0 win over Lithuania, Israel beat Iceland 3-2 while Egypt saw off Australia 3-0. Domestically it's all gone wrong for Corby who are now down to 10 men and trailing 2-0 in their FA Cup tie at Luton."
France goal: And it's been coming. Karim Benzema works a lovely one-two with Florent Malouda on the edge of the box, is released inside the area, and lashes in at Ben Foster's near post. Question marks about the keeper, but a lovely move and strike nonetheless.
Norway goal: Cracking strike, Morten Gamst Pedersen lining up a free-kick 25 yards out and curling it right into Shay Given's top corner. We're all square.
2019: GOALFLASH England 0-1 France (Benzema)
2019: GOALFLASH Republic of Ireland 1-1 Norway (Pedersen)
2016: Over at Windsor Park, we've just seen the best chance of the match so far - but Morocco's Hadji shoots weakly and straight at Northern Ireland keeper Jonathan Tuffey.
2015: France starting to threaten now, and they're looking a decent set-up. Florent Malouda again is a menace for England, this time turning Rio Ferdinand before flailing an effort well wide. Moments later Yoann Gourcuff slams a fine drive low at goal that England keeper Ben Foster pushes around the post. The hosts very much on the back foot.
2012: First moment of alarm for England at the back - and Phil Jagielka is a touch exposed at right-back as Florent Malouda pushes forward, his low cross-shot held at the second attempt by England keeper Ben Foster.
2010: France earn themselves a corner... it comes to nothing. James Milner attempts to lead the counter with Theo Walcott in support, but Bacary Sagna is back well and the Frenchman clears his lines.
2007: Couple of encouraging early touches for Jordan Henderson, who is looking to keep the ball moving, while Andy Carroll has also got a couple of nice lay-offs under his belt.
2005: Steven Gerrard lines up England's first effort at goal barely a minute in with a 40-yard free-kick, but it's straight down Hugo Lloris's throat and it's easily saved.
2004: We are up and running at Wembley. Time for England's new bright young things to show their mettle. England, by the way, haven't beaten France for more than 13 years - the scorer that day? Alan Shearer. Andy Carroll, this is your moment...
gsandhu18 on Twitter:
"England have won every time Walcott has been involved (14) - it's a record and hopefully it continues tonight!"
Internationals (and FA Cup) Ian: "Amidst all the international action there are a couple of FA Cup first round replays taking place tonight - both of which kicked off at 1945 GMT. No goals yet in the Yorkshire derby between York and Rotherham but Matthew Barnes-Homer has given Luton an early lead at home to Corby."
2001: Norwegian goalkeeper Jon Knudsen pushes away an inviting low cross from Liam Lawrence and Knudsen is again on hand to deny Ireland by scampering back to keep out Damien Duff's close-range follow-up effort. Ireland playing all the ball and dominating so far...
1959: Here come the anthems at Wembley - and, apparently, as part of the 'Code of Conduct' the French players have signed up to under Laurent Blanc, they must sing 'La Marseillaise'. One or two are not abiding, however... Karim Benzema, hand your head sir.
1957: Here come the England and France teams at Wembley in front of a sell-out crowd, we're moments away from kick-off.
1955: Wolves fans will be interested to hear that Jonny Gorman - an academy player at Molineux - is looking very tasty indeed against Morocco, causing the visitors' right-back all sorts of problems with his direct running. The much-changed hosts looking very good in these early stages. Fulham's Aaron Hughes and West Brom's Chris Brunt will play just the first half of Northern Ireland's match against Morocco, Lyle Jackson tells me meanwhile.
Internationals Ian: "Some disturbing news reaching us via Associated Press, who report that Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is suffering boos and racist chants every time he touches the ball in Italy's friendly against Romania in Austria."
Republic of Ireland goal: The perfect start for the hosts, with Shane Long winning and converting a fifth-minute penalty. Brede Hangeland is the guilty party, climbing all the Reading striker in the box, Long picking himself up to slam home.
1951: GOALFLASH Republic of Ireland 1-0 Norway (Long pen)
1951: PENALTY TO REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
1950: Bright start from Northern Ireland, with Jonny Gorman impressing in the early stages. Encouraging.
1947: And now in the Northern Ireland-Morocco tie.
1945: We're under way in the Republic of Ireland-Norway match.
1942: NORTHERN IRELAND v MOROCCO Lyle Jackson reports: "Friendly matches are hardly Northern Ireland's specialist subject. Nigel Worthington's men have not won any of their last nine, scoring just one goal in that dismal sequence. Windsor Park groundsman David McClure, meanwhile, has been on Radio Ulster: "The pump has been working overtime getting rid of the water." We shall see."
1941: If you give this page a cheeky manual refresh, by the way, audio links to the England and Northern Ireland matches will magically* appear on the right-hand side. Which is nice. * Appearance of audio links is not actually magical
1940: ENGLAND v FRANCE Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports: "England's team is experimental but still very interesting. All focus on the new boys, but Phil Jagielka's performance at right-back - a position he has not filled since his early days at Everton - will catch Fabio Capello's eye given Glen Johnson's problems with loss of form and injury. The real attention, however, will be on Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson. Great chance for Theo Walcott to make an impression also, while there are few surprises with the France team. Game on."
1938: Northern Ireland team v Morocco Tuffey, Hodson, McGivern, Hughes, Evans, Barton, Gorman, McGinn, McCourt, Brunt, Patterson.
1934: REPUBLIC OF IRELAND v NORWAY James Boylan reports: "Shay Given makes his 109th appearance to overtake Kevin Kilbane as Ireland's most capped player. Despite being without preferred starters Kilbane, Richard Dunne, Paul Green and Robbie Keane, there's a familiar enough feel to Giovanni Trapatonni's Republic of Ireland starting XI with the likes of John O'Shea, Glenn Whelan and Kevin Doyle all present. Ipswich defender Darren O'Dea, though, earns his first senior start, while Birmingham's Keith Fahey gets a rare starting berth in the centre of the park. Irish fans, however, might be more interested in sizing up 19-year-old left-back Greg Cunningham - on loan at Leciester from Manchester City - who wins his third cap. For visitors Norway, Premier League stalwarts Alfe Inge Hangeland, of Fulham, and Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen both feature, as well as ex-Liverpool, now Roma, full-back John Arne Riise."
SuffolkFA on Twitter:
"Wow, England picking players on form! Whatever next, players who aren't injured?!"
1930: France team v England Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Mexes, Abidal; Groucuff, M'Vila, Nasri; Valbuena, Benzema, Malouda.
Hywel on 606:
"Re: Anon on Carroll. So its taken a grand total of zero minutes playing football for England seniors to deem he is over rated. Why do English fans insist on putting down their own players?"
1925: Fabio Capello on England new-boy Andy Carroll: "This is a big chance. To play with the senior side and to change his lifestyle. I hope he will understand what really happens when you play with the seniors. I have spoken to him about what he has to do during the game. I haven't spoken to him about his private life but I will. Everyone makes mistakes when they're young. He's 21. A lot of people drink, no? We have to help him but he has to understand he is in the senior team. There will be journalists, photographers, everyone focusing on him. Life will be different now. His behaviour has to be better. We decided it was not OK for him to stay with us for the Montenegro game because his behaviour was not OK. Now we have picked him because he can improve by staying with us. He has to be careful in every moment."
seventeenth on 606:
"RE: Anon (below) - as this is the first real test for Andy Carroll, we have no idea whether he is under- or over-rated."
Adam_Clatworthy on Twitter:
"Including these youngsters is a pointless exercise. When the stars are fit, it will be back to the same old England squad."
1919: While we wait for the full line-ups to drop, then, why not take some time to check out Scotland's 3-0 defeat of the Faroe Islands from last night? If you're in the UK
we've only got video highlights haven't we.
I know... we spoil you.
kanchelskis_legend on 606:
"Re 1908 - Very elegant use of the semicolon, Sam. I like it." Aww shucks, you're too kind. Ey fank yaow.
Anon via text: "Am I the only person in England who thinks Carroll is over rated?"
Gallacticos87 on Twitter:
"England will be much better without their household names as Jagielka, Milner, Henderson, Carroll et al are unburdened by reputations!"
1914: REPUBLIC OF IRELAND v NORWAY James Boylan reports: "The defeat at home to Russia and the draw in Slovakia in his last Euro 2012 qualifiers have left manager Giovanni Trapattoni with an uphill task of propelling the Republic of Ireland to their first major tournament since the 2002 World Cup. Tonight on Dublin's southside, il Trap's men have the chance to regroup and instil some confidence for their next Group B test at home to Macedonia in March. Their opponents Norway, though, should prove a tough nut to crack. The ever-obdurate Scandinavians are in fine fettle - lying atop Group H ahead of Portugal and Denmark under wily gaffer Egil Olsen, who has taken his country to two World Cups during a previous time in charge."
1910: NORTHERN IRELAND v MOROCCO Lyle Jackson reports: "Northern Ireland, with a barely recognisable line-up, prepare to take on Morocco at a wet and windy Windsor Park. A string of withdrawals means Nigel Worthington has to blood some new faces, including debutants Adam Barton of Preston and Watford's Lee Hodson. There has been heavy rain in Belfast but the playing surface looks in good nick."
1908: England team v France Foster; Jagielka, Ferdinand (c), Lescott, Gibbs; Henderson, Barry; Walcott, Gerrard, Milner; Carroll
1906: ENGLAND v FRANCE Chief football writer Phil McNulty
reports: "England's sell-out friendly with France has been given an added layer of intrigue by the inclusion of young debutants Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson. Newcastle's striker has passed a fitness test on his groin injury and this game against Laurent Blanc's side will be a real measure of his development. France are in a similar process of rebuilding and recovery after their own disastrous World Cup campaign, but Blanc still has plenty of reserves of talent to call upon."
1901: It sounds, by the way, like Fabio Capello is going to deploy Phil Jagielka at right-back for England against France tonight, with Jordan Henderson and Gareth Barry sitting behind a three of James Miler, Steven Gerrard and Theo Walcott with Andy Carroll up front on his own. The confirmed teams when I get them.
Internationals Ian: "Roque Santa Cruz, who expects to leave Manchester City in January, has put himself in the shop window by scoring twice and making two more goals as Paraguay rattled up a 7-0 win in Hong Kong with Sunderland's Cristian Riveros also on target."
1854: FULL-TIME Argentina 1-0 Brazil
Infostrada Sportstell me that is Lionel Messi's first goal in five against Brazil and this will be his first win as a player over them.
Argentina goal: He's a genius, no doubt about it, and that's a goal worthy of winning any game. Lionel Messi latches on to Ezequiel Lavezzi's lay-off, surges past four Brazil defenders as if they're not even there, and then slides the ball on the reverse into the far corner. Brilliant.
1849: According to the voices on the magical telebox on my desk, possession this half has been split right down the middle 50-50 between Argentina and Brazil. Nowt to pick between them... and unfortunately a goal doesn't look like coming with less than two minutes of normal time remaining.
U14636037 on 606:
"Can't believe nobody has mentioned Lewis Holtby?! The young Englishman/German is having a blinder for Bundesliga newboys Mainz, yet wasn't considered for a call up!! Even if he'd come on and played for five minutes, it would have meant he couldn't have represented Germany! That's another talent that goes to Germany, who have called him up for their friendly tonight, and a major opportunity missed by Capello."
Tim Franks, BBC Sports News Correspondent, in Doha: "RE: 1841 - with respect, Sam, you're wrong. In parts of the middle east, running around in your shorts IS streaking. And prozone will show that he covered 2.4 km before the local coppers caught up with him."
1844: It's been a touch, well, dull this half in Doha... but Robinho threatens to add a bit of colour to the encounter, only for his rising drive from 20 yards to fly over the bar.
1841: Slight delay to proceedings in Doha thanks to an intruder on the pitch. The gentleman is eventually caught by a pack of nine stewards... and he's fully clothed. Worst. Streaker. Ever.
1839: Re-read entry 1837, only this time Dani Alves blazes over the bar from 25 yards. Ho hum.
hayleybocsp on 606:
"I'm happy with England's selection, it is the time to start new things. I hope Andy Carroll will have a great match."
1837: I think it's safe to say the sting has been drawn out of this game somewhat, with the substitutions partly to blame I'm sure, and yet another decent Brazil free-kick position is wasted, Dani Alves failing to beat the first defender in the box. The set pieces have not been the greatest tonight, that's for sure.
1833: Another change, this time for Brazil - Douglas the man coming on for Ronaldinho.
Internationals Ian: "The two Euro 2012 qualifiers are over - with no more goals in the closing stages. Croatia go top of Group F, two points ahead of Greece, after beating Malta 3-0 but Finland stay fifth in Group E after hammering bottom-placed San Marino 8-0 - their first win of the competition. News on tonight's friendlies to follow as well as scores from the night's two FA Cup first round replays."
1829: Here's a familiar face for Pompey fans... Andres D'Alessandro has come on for Javier Pastore.
Tim Franks, BBC Sports News Correspondent, in Doha: "Took a while for the crowd to get back to their seats after halftime - Alan Green would have been disgusted. But now as the tackles become more agricultural, the atmosphere beginning to cook up nicely."
1826: Brazil free-kick 20 yards out, left of goal, Ronaldinho over it... but the playmaker's low, whipped effort is watched all the way by keeper Sergio Romero, who saves low at his feet.
1823: Brilliant advantage played by the referee after Neymar, on the back of another lovely run, is up-ended on the edge of the area... the ball falling to Robinho, who brings out a fine sprawling save low to his left by Argentina keeper Sergio Romero. The offside flag, as it happens, went up anyway so it wouldn't have counted, though. The advantage decision not quite so great, then.
PSN_Eweor on Twitter:
"As a Newcastle fan I do worry that it could make the injury worse, but I want to see Carroll have his England debut."
Internationals Ian: "In case you think Finland's mauling of San Marino is the only Euro 2012 qualifier taking place today, don't forget Croatia's tie with Malta, where the hosts have just scored a third goal through Blackburn's Nikola Kalinic to follow two earlier strikes from Tottenham's Niko Kranjcar. Around 10 minutes left in each game."
1817: Moments after Argentina optimistically appeal for a penalty when Javier Pastore's fierce shot smacks Thiago Silva, no more than a couple of yards away, on the arm, Brazil break and Dani Alves lamps a dipping effort over the Argentina bar.
1815: Out in Doha, the second half has yet to really catch fire just yet - though Ezequiel Lavezzi has embarked on a couple of very nice runs down the right-hand side. Neymar still looking Brazil's biggest threat up front.
1812: I wonder how that Andy Carroll news will be greeted in Newcastle? It seemed the Magpies were
keen for the young frontman to pull out of tonight's match
and save himself for the weekend... but the 21-year-old starts despite a groin problem. Will there be Carroll singing later tonight? Sorry.
1810: BREAKING ENGLAND NEWS Andy Carroll has passed a late fitness test and will start against France at Wembley tonight, making his England debut, reports Five Live's Ian Dennis.
Internationals Ian: "I've been away from the desk trying to resolve a technical issue - but on my return I find that Finland have rattled in four more goals and now lead San Marino 8-0. Kasper Hamalainen hit his second to make it 5-0, Jari Litmanen converted a penalty for the sixth, Roni Porokara chipped in with the seventh and just now Mikael Forssell has completed his hat-trick."
1808: Close. Ramires looks to release Neymar in behind the Argentina defence and his pass is weighted perfectly... it comes milliseconds too late, though, as Neymar is caught half a yard offside. He'd have been through on goal, otherwise.
1803: Well, the Brazilians are out and about... Argentina are only now making their way back out. They won't be rushed by anyone, obviously.
1800: Here come the players again in Doha, then - who's going to break the deadlock people?
Tiirshak on Twitter:
"I can relax after Scotland's good stuff last night. I expect hard matches for all home nations. Can't see England winning."
Jai, London, via text: "Sir Alex in Doha speaking at a conference, whilst Brazil v Arg in the same city. Conincidence? No chance - scouting for a one Javier Pastore me thinks."
Internationals Ian: "Mikael Forssell is on fire (not literally..) He has hit his second of the day and Finland's fourth against San Marino to put his country in sight of their first win of the qualifying campaign."
Tim Franks, BBC Sports News Correspondent, in Doha: "Half-time, and confirmation that Ronaldinho has found his dancing feet, that Messi never lost his, that if you don't have your national stadium host monster-truck racing then the playing surface can be a carpet, and that Qatar has one of the world's worst national anthems. Apologies to the Emir."
1750: Argentina 0-0 Brazil: Jonathan Stevenson's
half-time snap-shot: "We've had the woodwork clattered, the locals noisily cheering every pass and the players taking it super seriously. Only thing missing is goals."
CescIsBest on 606:
"Already seen more than a few glimpses of the old Ronaldinho. Awesome player. Messi calling the shots for the Argies. Think he ought to be cloned! PS: Robinho is still horrific."
1746: And the half-time whistle goes. Ignore the scoreline, this has been a joy at times.
Internationals Ian: "While we are goalless in Doha it is all happening in the Euro 2012 qualifiers with Finland scoring twice in quick succession at the start of their second half against San Marino to move into a 3-0 lead, with goals from Kasper Hamalainen and former Chelsea and Birmingham striker Mikael Forssell. Croatia are still 2-0 up on Malta in the other game."
1744: Lovely skill from Neymar as he bursts beyond the Argentina defence on the left, and it takes a smart tackle from Javier Zanetti to stop the Brazilian's progress in the box. Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, is spotted in the crowd chatting away to... Zinedine Zidane. As you do.
bunday dingwall via text: "How on earth can Ronaldinho still get a game?"
1739: What an effort that is. Lionel Messi collects, looks up, and on the run kerplunks a dreamy effort at the Brazil goal, only for it to drift just a touch and smack against the post. Would've been a top, top strike.
1738: Better free-kick, this time, from Ronaldinho - but Sergio Romero is across to his left easily to beat the 22-yard effort away.
1735: It's still Brazil making most of the play out in Doha - something of a contrast to their style of play under previous boss Dunga, that's for sure - but Argentina, and Lionel Messi in particular, are looking ever so dangerous on the break. No goals so far, but some lovely bits and pieces for the purists.
1732: Got a couple of beauties from
for you, by the way. Lionel Messi has scored only twice in his last 17 international matches, and netted just once in his last nine - Argentina's 4-1 home friendly win against Spain on September 7. Ronaldinho, meanwhile, returns to the Brazil squad for the first time in 17 months - since he played in their 3-0 WCQ home win against Peru on April 1, 2009. And he has not scored in his last seven internationals - since Brazil's 5-0 WCQ home win against Ecuador in October 2007.
1728: As it happens, he didn't need to in the end as the offside flag is raised, but Victor has just pulled off a stunning couple of saves from point blank range, first from Nicolas Pareja's header from a corner and then Gonzalo Higuain's snap-shot follow-up. Top work from the Brazilian keeper.
1727: There are some real magicians on show out in Doha, and after Ronaldinho brings a couple of tricks out of his top drawer to dance around a couple of tackles, Lionel Messi drives at the Brazilian defence before feeding in Gonzalo Higuain, who is unable to get his shot off.
philgem on Twitter:
"As a Scot, great to see Barry Bannan turning it on last night. Memories of Archie Gemmill..."
michaelgjkent on Twitter:
"Northern Ireland are blooding young 'uns tonight too. We've stolen Adam Barton off England so very interested as he starts for NI."
Internationals Ian: "Goals flying already in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Tottenham's Niko Kranjcar has scored his second for Croatia who now lead Malta 2-0 while Finland lead San Marino 1-0 at half-time thanks to an effort from Mika Vayrynen."
1722: Oh there's a glimpse of the Ronaldinho of old, the AC Milan star attempting the cheekiest of back-heels from 10 yards when a corner comes in, but Sergio Romero gets down well to save.
1721: Cracking effort from Javier Mascherano... but it's at his own goal. Neymar again causes problems down the left and when his cross comes in Mascherano, looking to kick it out for a corner, blazes inches wide of the Argentina goal. Caught that lovely, did the midfielder. Sighs of relief all round, though.
1718: Another lovely bit of build-up play from Brazil, and this time the ball is played to Dani Alves, whose crashing right-foot shot on the half-volley smashes against the bar and away. The closest we've come.
Tim Franks, BBC Sports News Correspondent, in Doha: "Already some gorgeous football from the two old rivals. Khalifa stadium packed - the sparkling white dishdashas of the locals mingling with the light blues and yellows of the opposing fans. Beatle-like screams any time Lionel Messi or Ronaldinho go anywhere near the ball."
1712: Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria combine on the left of the Brazil box but the latter's shot on goal when it comes is poor. So much to admire about both teams so far, however, plenty of quality on show.
1710: Moments after Lionel Messi causes the odd heart flutter in the Brazil defence with a mazy run, Andre Santos looks to set Neymar free in the box at the other end - only for the reported Chelsea target to control poorly and the chance is gone.
Internationals Ian: "Among tonight's international delights are the year's last two Euro 2012 qualifiers, which are already under way, and a host of friendlies around the world. Tottenham's Niko Kranjcar has already put Croatia ahead against Malta in Group F while the Group E match between Finland and San Marino is still goalless. Both ties started at 1630 GMT."
1706: Javier Zanetti dances in from the right into the Brazil box, but his left-foot effort is held easily low down by Victor.
1705: Good free-kick position for Brazil, 25 yards out in the centre of goal, but Ronaldinho's effort slams into the wall before Andre Santos sprays his follow-up wide. The early tempo is very good here, though, and Argentina have already threatened through Javier Pastore in the Brazil box - plenty of ambition on show so far.
C15MNW on Twitter:
"RE: 1654 - Sorry, I thought Gareth Bale was the Best Player In The World (TM), not Messi?"
1702: First glimpse of Ronaldinho on his return to the Brazil side... but the forward can only clip his cross into the hands of Sergio Romero on the back of a half-decent run. Brazil enjoying more of the ball in these very early stages.
1700: And we are up and running in Doha.
1659: Argentina v Brazil line-ups: Argentina: Romero; Zanetti, Pareja, Burdisso, Heinze; Banega, Mascherano, Pastore; Messi, Higuaín, Di María. Brazil: Víctor; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, André Santos; Lucas, Elías; Ramires, Ronaldinho; Robinho, Neymar.
1657: So keep the England and Northern Ireland chat coming, of course, but we're about to get under way in Doha. Our man Tim Franks is in situ as he prepares a report on
Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid,
so he'll be popping up from time to time with the odd nugget of colour for you - be excited.
redandblackT on 606:
"How's your fitness level Sam? Because if another England player drops out, your country just might be desperate enough to need you."
1654: ARGENTINA v BRAZIL: Jonathan Stevenson
reports: "Brazil v Argentina? It might be a friendly, but there's absolutely nothing not to get excited about with this one. Both have new coaches since we last saw them at the World Cup, with Brazil's Mano Menezes handing a long-awaited recall to Ronaldinho in Doha. Argentina coach Sergio Batista takes command for the first time as Diego Maradona's permanent replacement, and he has The World's Best Player Lionel Messi at his disposal. Mouth-watering in the desert."
Lord Beer on 606:
"Looking forward to Henderson and hopefully Carroll. Gibbs proved on his last outing he will slot in nicely when Ashley Cole loses form. Problem is, will Capello stick with youth if tonight is a success?!"
hedonistic_me on Twitter:
"Admirable attempt at trying to generate some enthusiasm, but this is going to be dour at best I'm afraid."
1649: So get involved people. Tweet me
@sampatricklyon, jump into the chat over on
or text me via 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). You know you want to.
1645: It's not all about England tonight, though, of course, with a veritable feast of international friendlies for us to salivate over. Among 30 matches, we have
Northern Ireland at home to Morocco
kicking off at 1945 GMT,
Republic of Ireland playing host to Norway
at the same time, and then the
encounter at 2000 GMT. Internationals Ian will keep you across the best of the rest... and before all that, we've only got the mouth-dribbler that is Argentina v Brazil in Doha at 1700 don't we? In short, not one of you has any excuse not to be giddier than a schoolboy. Right?
1642: In fact, if early team reports are to be confirmed, just three of the 'stars' that started England's disastrous
4-1 World Cup second-round defeat by Germany in South Africa in June
will feature from kick-off tonight. Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry and James Milner will be joined by a host of fresh talent - some of whom will be less familiar than others. England supporters the world over
bayed for Fabio Capello to ditch the old guard
and plump for new blood following their World Cup failure - well, they have their wish now don't they? Whether the new boys can succeed where their predecessors failed is yet to be seen - but tonight we might just get an idea. You ready?
1638: Yep, it's dominated the headlines in the build-up to the match - making an otherwise potentially flat England-France friendly a really rather intriguing one - but we're still not sure if
Andy Carroll will, as Fabio Capello wants, make his international debut tonight.
The England staff say he is fit, Newcastle say he isn't. A late fitness test should reveal all - and the suspicions are that the big frontman will indeed take to the field at Wembley. And he won't be the only new face on show if he does, I tell you.
1635: So... will he? Won't he? Should he? Welcome to Andy Carroll-watch. News on the Newcastle striker's potential England debut in tonight's friendly against France... as and when I get it, folks.
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