There are a few positions which you can get away with playing a 17-year-old in a high-level soccer game: winger, for instance, or even fullback. Center back, however, is a different story. Center back relies almost entirely on guile and experience. This is why players tend to move back there as they age and cannot run like a midfielder anymore.
Cristiano Ronaldo hit his 69th and 70th international goals for Portugal on Saturday to join an elite club of players to have reached such a milestone. At 32, you wouldn’t put it past Ronaldo to some day eclipse Ferenc Puskas’ European record total of 84 international goals.
Both of his goals were extremely well taken against Hungary, but it was the historic 70th that both celebrated his unique skill and outlined his vast contribution to the sport of football.
Russia 2018 is coming closer after each passing day, and there are a few large countries who absolutely cannot afford to slip if they hope to qualify.
The decisive victory against Hungary notwithstanding, Portugal haven't been able to show the form that won them Euro 2016.
So far, so good on the return of Bruce Arena as manager of the USMNT. Sebastian Lletget scored a tap-in after Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escober saved Christian Pulisic’s shot, Michael Bradley scored a brilliant solo goal from distance and then Pulisic provided a wonderfully linked assist to Clint Dempsey, the Texan returning to international duty after missing the opening two games of the Hex with an irregular heartbeat.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez equalled Jared Borgetti’s all-time goalscoring record for Mexico by scoring his 46th goal in his 89th match. Coincidentally, that’s the exact same record as Borgetti.
The Republic of Ireland moved level with Serbia at the top of UEFA Group D in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, but the hard-earned result came with the loss of their influential captain, Everton defender Seamus Coleman. Wales’ Neil Taylor was given a straight red in the 69th-minute after going straight through Coleman’s standing leg with his studs showing.
It looked like a fractured leg, and Coleman was stretchered off while requiring oxygen.
Try as Chile and his teammates might, Lionel Messi remained on course to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. When they get there, Messi’s teammates and the opposition might get the better of him, but tonight was not their night. Messi converted a penalty after a soft call in the box and Argentina hung on for a 1-0 victory in Buenos Aires.
Colombia almost offered Argentina a massive lifeline before they’d even taken the field by leaving it until the 83rd-minute to take the lead against lowly Bolivia in Barranquilla. However, James Rodriguez converted the follow-up after his initial penalty was saved, and Colombia secured a vital three points.
James remains very much on the periphery at Real Madrid, scoring only two goals in La Liga this season, but he’s a faultless captain when it comes to leading Colombia.
Chile and Argentina will meet for the fifth time in just two years later today, but each encounter has been extremely memorable in its own right. Tonight, with both teams fighting tooth and nail for 2018 World Cup qualification, will be no different. Let’s take a look back at the previous four encounters between La Albiceleste and La Roja.
With only six matches remaining in South American World Cup qualifying, Argentina face the very real possibility of having their dreams dashed by Chile for the third time in three years. When Chile and Argentina take the field Thursday night in Buenos Aires, it will almost certainly be with both sides out of the automatic qualifying places.
If Colombia defeat Bolivia in Barranquilla, they’ll leapfrog both Argentina and Chile in the table, sending Chile to fifth and Argentina to the disastrous standing of sixth — out of the World Cup.