Champions League stars’ extra-European exploits

Alexis Sánchez could find no way past club-mate David Ospina as Chile held Colombia to a 0-0 draw on Thursday but – despite heavy strapping on a thigh injury – scored twice in the space of 16 second-half minutes in Monday’s 3-1 win against Uruguay. Those goals moved him on to 36 international goals, one shy of Marcelo Salas’s national record. Ospina subsequently warned there was “no way to stop Messi” ahead of his side’s encounter with Argentina – the Barcelona man duly beating him with a superb free-kick and setting up two more goals in a 3-0 win. Mohamed Elneny, meanwhile, featured for Egypt in a 2-0 win against Ghana.

Lionel Messi did not produce his A-game as he and Javier Mascherano lined up against Brazil on Thursday, club-mate Neymar among the scorers in a 3-0 win for the home side in Belo Horizonte. “When they hit us hard we struggled to recover,” Messi said, though he rallied, scoring a great free-kick and setting up two more goals in that 3-0 defeat of Colombia. Neymar did not score in Brazil’s 2-0 defeat of Peru, and Luís Suárez failed to register in Uruguay’s two qualifiers – though he did find the target direct from a goal kick during a stint between the sticks in a training game.

Douglas Costa made a couple of cameo appearances from the bench as Brazil beat Argentina and then Peru in qualifying games, but Bayern’s main South American interest in recent days has been in Arturo Vidal. Having sustained a thigh injury in Chile’s 0-0 draw against Colombia, he vowed to feature in the subsequent meeting with Uruguay, saying: “I will play, no matter what.” The club were concerned about him, and in the event he was taken off 57 minutes into a 3-1 win.

Striker Vincent Aboubakar scored a penalty five minutes into first-half added time as Cameroon drew 1-1 with Zambia.

It was a quiet few days for Dortmund’s extra-European internationals; striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drew a blank along with his team-mates in Gabon’s 0-0 draw with Mali – their second stalemate in as many qualifying games. Shinji Kagawa, meanwhile, had a brief walk-on part in Japan’s 2-1 defeat of Saudi Arabia.

Dani Alves may be looking a little sparklier than clubmate Gonzalo Higuaín as the pair return to training in Turin, having captained Brazil to a 3-0 success against Higuaín’s Argentina. The striker started on the bench as Argentina made amends with a 3-0 defeat of Colombia, coming on for the final 12 minutes. Dani Alves relinquished the armband to Fernandinho for Brazil’s 2-0 triumph in Peru. Mehdi Benatia, meanwhile, captained Morocco in a 0-0 draw at home to the Ivory Coast.

 Javier Hernández (Mexico)Chicharito in action for Mexico©

Javier Hernández played all 180 minutes of Mexico’s two qualifiers – a 2-1 win in the United States and a 0-0 draw in Panama – but failed to score the goal he needs to match Jorge Borgetti’s 46-goal national-team record. “For me it would be nice, but it is something that I’m not obsessed about,” said Chicharito. Club-mate Charles Aranguíz, meanwhile, was taken off 74 minutes into Chile’s 0-0 draw in Colombia and missed the subsequent 3-1 defeat of Uruguay through suspension.

Fernandinho‘s Brazil won 3-0 against an Argentina side featuring City team-mates Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolás Otamendi, Sergio Agüero, and then captained his side to a 2-0 success against Peru – where 19-year-old Gabriel Jesus, who will join City in January from Palmeiras, scored one and set up another. Otamendi, meanwhile, was the only member of City’s Argentinian trio to feature in the 3-0 defeat of Colombia.

Taken off with 19 minutes remaining of Argentina’s 3-0 defeat by Brazil (who featured his club-mates Marquinhos and, briefly, Thiago Silva), Ángel Di María experienced redemption of sorts when he scored in the subsequent 3-0 defeat of Colombia – a simple enough back-post finish from Messi’s ball. Marquinhos featured again as Brazil beat Peru 2-0, while Edinson Cavani made it 20 goals in 20 games for club and country this season with a goal in Uruguay’s 3-1 loss to Chile (he is now Uruguay’s second highest scorer of all time with 37). Serge Aurier, meanwhile, featured as Ivory Coast drew 0-0 in a qualifier in Morocco.

Defender Miguel Layún opened the scoring as Mexico beat the United States 2-1 in Columbus. Hector Herrera also played; both men featured in the goalless draw with Panama on Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas can approach Saturday’s derby against Atlético with a spring in his step as he returns from international duty having kept clean sheets in Costa Rica’s 2-0 success in Trinidad and Tobago and 4-0 home win against the United States. Marcelo featured in Brazil’s 3-0 defeat of Argentina, but returned to Madrid early, a booking meaning he was suspended for the subsequent 2-0 defeat of Peru. James Rodríguez captained Colombia to a 0-0 draw against Chile and a 3-0 defeat in Argentina.

Hiroshi Kiyotake (Japan)Japan midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake©Getty Images

Midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake struck from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time as Japan beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Saitama.

Substitute Joel Campbell hit the net twice as Costa Rica triumphed 4-0 over the USA, with Bryan Ruiz on the field for 84 minutes. Both players also helped their country to a 2-0 win away to Trinidad and Tobago four days earlier.

Son Heung-Min was back in South Korea to help his side come from behind and earn a 2-1 win against a surprisingly resilient Uzbekistan, Augsburg midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol hitting the 85th-minute winner. Victor Wanyama, meanwhile, helped Kenya earn a 1-0 home win over Mozambique.

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