Internationals | Moutinho captains Portugal to victory

Joao Moutinho wore the captain’s armband for Portugal as the Wolves midfielder led his country to the top of their World Cup qualifying group, thanks to a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan.

Just one day shy of his 35th birthday, Moutinho – Portugal’s second most capped player of all time – stood in for the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and was one of nine senior old goal men in international action this week, as qualification for the World Cup in Qatar came to a close for September.

With the players now due back at Compton Park ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash with Watford, rounds up the action between Monday and Wednesday involving Bruno Lage’s players.

Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Nelson Semedo & Francisco Trincao | Azerbaijan 0-3 Portugal

Moutinho lasted 75 minutes of Portugal’s World Cup qualifying win, but he wasn’t the only member of Wolves’ Portuguese contingent in action this week, as Ruben Neves also got some time on the pitch in the second-half of his country’s comfortable victory over Azerbaijan, in place of Joao Palhinha, to partner Moutinho. Nelsen Semedo and Francisco Trincao – who came into the squad as Portugal’s number seven in place of Ronaldo – were unused substitutes as they maintained a two-point lead over of Serbia in qualifying Group A.

Willy Boly | Ivory Coast 2-1 Cameroon

With Ivory Coast on the UK’s Covid-19 amber list, Willy Boly was given permission to play in his country’s World Cup qualifying clash with Cameroon, having missed the first of their two September matches. Returning to fitness following his pre-season injury, Boly played 70 minutes for the Elephants as Sebastian Haller’s double sent Ivory Coast top of CAF qualifying Group D.

Hee Chan Hwang | South Korea 1-0 Lebanon

Although yet to make his Wolves debut, new signing Hee Chan Hwang played a key role in getting South Korea’s World Cup qualifying group stages off and running with an assist in their 1-0 win over Lebanon. Starting on the left-wing, Hwang set up Chang-Hoon Kwon for the winning goal on the hour mark, to leave his country with four points from their two qualifying matches.

Adama Traore | Kosovo 0-2 Spain

Spain bounced back from their disappointing result against Sweden with successive wins to finish their September, and Adama Traore came off the bench to help his country secure a two-goal victory over Kosovo. Going into the second-half 1-0 up thanks to Pablo Fornals’ goal, Traore replaced the goalscorer on 72 minutes and played his part in extending Spain’s lead at the top of Group B to four points.

Leander Dendoncker | Belarus 0-1 Belgium

Belgium now has an eight-point lead in Group E as they look to secure their place at next year’s World Cup in style, but the Red Devils had to settle for just a single-goal win over Belarus in Russia. Leander Dendoncker was another Wolves player who came off the bench for their country’s this week, replacing Michy Batshuayi late on in Kazan, as Belgium held on to take the three points after Dennis Praet’s early goal.

Conor Coady | Poland 1-1 England

Having helped England to a clean sheet against Andorra last time out, Conor Coady was an unused substitute as the Three Lions fell to a late equaliser from Poland on their travels. Harry Kane’s long-range effort looked to have maintained England’s 100 per cent record in qualifying, but Damian Szymanski’s header in the dying moments saw Poland snatch a late point. However, England still top Group I with a four-point lead over Albania.


There were also victories for Fabio Silva and Ki-Jana Hoever this week, as the pair made their debuts for Portugal under-21s and Netherlands under-21s respectively in their 2023 U21 European Championship qualifying matches. Silva played the first hour for Portugal as they beat Belarus 1-0 on Monday, while Hoever came off the bench with five minutes remaining in Netherlands’ 3-0 win against Moldova.

Romain Saiss was due to captain Morocco in their World Cup qualifying match in Guinea, but the match was cancelled after an attempted coup took place in Guinea’s capital Conakry. Following hours of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace, FIFA and CAF postponed the game, and Saiss and his Moroccan teammates were escorted safely out of the country.