The surgeons are stood down, Alexis left the pitch intact and Juan Antonio Pizzi was true to his word; he placed the emphasis on the player’s fitness and substituted him early. With six minutes to go. Thanks for thinking of his condition, Juan; cheers, buddy.
Being Alexis, he looked suitably miffed at being hooked but was caught by a photographer as he walked around the edge of the pitch:
That’s the look of a man pulling a sickie and getting caught on the TV cameras at Cheltenham. So we wait to see if playing for his country has exacerbated the problem – it couldn’t make it any better so it’s damage limitation – enough to rule him out of Saturday’s clash with Manchester United.
On the off-chance that it hasn’t, here’s his brace from last night with a helping hand from the Uruguayan goalkeeper on the first goal. Well, he’d liked to have got a hand to it…
At which point we poke our heads above the parapet and peer onto the continent where there was almost an outbreak of sanity among the international coaches. Almost. It’s a shame Joachim Löw didn’t extend the rest he gave Mesut Özil to Shkodran Mustafi but no, he made the centre back play ninety minutes in a goalless draw with Italy.
However, there are no reports of him suffering an injury so that’s half the centre of Saturday’s defence OK to play. The other half, Laurent Koscielny, seemed fit enough when he left the pitch at half-time, not re-emerging for the second period so Didier Deschamps went up in my estimation. Olivier Giroud’s latest barren spell stretched to three matches when he went half an hour without scoring in the goalless draw with Ivory Coast.
Theo Walcott came on for the injured Adam Lallana as England went into a 2 – 0 lead over Spain which was nice. And then they blew it, conceding twice in the last five minutes. Theo got an hour or so and did fairly well whilst Nacho Monreal didn’t play so that’s three-quarters of the back four fit for the weekend.
It seemed so typically England to lose two late goals to the Spanish reserves, with the equaliser a very familiar looking goal. Eerily reminiscent of the Belletti goal in Paris. The result didn’t do Gareth Southgate’s job prospects any harm, certainly not in the media’s eyes anyway. Given that the FA have a very shallow gene pool to choose from, it’s hard to see him not being offered the job permanently.
But most importantly, last night meant we bid farewell until next year to the international breaks which have so rudely interrupted the season. Don’t let the door slam into your arse on the way out.