Posted: 9/5/2016


       Unlike the last four or so England managers Sam Allardyce knows how to smile, and he had a great big grin after Adam Lallana's last kick of the mtach winner in Slovakia.

        For most of the match it was 'SAME OLD ENGLAND', plenty of possession but inability to create space on go for goal. Martin Skrtel finally got red carded  with 35 minutes remaining but it was still hard going for The Three Lions. The Slovaks are considered the second best team in the group, which includes Scotland, a 5-1 winner in Malta, although The George Cross Island were down to nine men. So Scotland, without a Big Time appearnce since FRANCE '98 under Craig Brown, find themselves top of Group F with Slovenia tying 2-2 with Lithuania.

     Empty stadiums in Kiev for Ukraine v Iceland 1-1, and in Zagreb for Croatia v Turkey 1-1 at Maksimir Stadium  after penalties for crowd and racist problems in the past. Congratulations to Kosovo for their first ever World Cup point v Finland at the Veritas Stadium in Turku. Gibraltar also played their first World Cup qualifier 'at home' to Greece, losing 4-1, but a few hours away in Portugal at Estadio Algarve while they build a new stadium on The Rock. Spain, who battled to keep Gibraltar from gaining recognition at UEFA and FIFA would not let them play in their nearby stadiums..

      Wales continued their EURO 2016 form as semi finalists by thumping Moldova at a full house at Cardiff City Stadium. 4-0 to the Red Dragons with Gareth Bale scoring twice plus one assist. Their last World Cup finals appearance was in Sweden in 1958 when,without John Charles, they lost in the quarter final to eventual champions Brazil.

       European Champions Portugal lost 2-0 minus CR7 in Basle to Switzerland while France struggled to draw in Belarus. New Red Devils coach Roberto Martinez saw Belgium start their campaign in Cyprus 3-0, while neighbours Netherlands tied Sweden 1-1 on the road at The Friends Arena after Zlatin Ibrahimovic retired from the international scene. The most exciting contest might have been in Sofia with visiting Luxembourg losing 4-3 to Bulgaria with a goal each in stoppage time..

  In Shkodar on Monday the Albania v Macedonia tie was abandoned due to torrential rain 1-1. The match resumed on Tuesday with the last 15 minutes being played and the home team snached all three points when Gekim Balaj netted in the last minute..

     Back to the usual grind this weekend. How about Jose v Pep in the United v City derby with Mark Clattenburg in the middle,?