Internationals | Portugal and Morocco qualify for the World Cup

Wolves’ Portuguese contingent will have the opportunity to represent their country at the 2022 World Cup having qualified for this winter’s competition in a thrilling play-off contest.

Joao Moutinho and Jose Sa were among the squad as Portugal booked their place in Qatar and were among a group of nine Wolves players in international action on Tuesday.

World Cup qualification was also one game away for Morocco captain Romain Saiss, and rounds up the action which took place yesterday involving Bruno Lage’s players.

Joao Moutinho, Jose Sa | Portugal 2-0 North Macedonia

Tuesday night was a celebration for many members of the Wolves squad and coaching staff as Portugal earned the victory they needed to secure their place in Qatar. Joao Moutinho was the only gold and black man who was on the Estadio do Dragao pitch in Porto as Bruno Fernandes’ brace was enough to see his country overcome the challenge of a North Macedonian side which had knocked Italy out of the running in the play-off semi-finals at the weekend. Once again playing in a defensive midfield role, Moutinho – earning his 144th Portugal cap – helped to dictate the play for 91 minutes before being replaced in added time by former Wolves teammate Vitinha, who was making his senior debut. Goalkeeper Jose Sa, who is still looking to make his senior international bow, was an unused substitute on Tuesday evening. With this result, there will be plenty of players among Lage’s Wolves squad who will be hoping to play themselves into contention for Portugal selection for November’s World Cup finals.

Romain Saiss | Morocco 4-1 DR Congo

Another Wolves man who was celebrating on Tuesday evening was Romain Saiss, having captained his Morocco team to a place in the World Cup at the expense of DR Congo. Playing at the centre of the back three once again, Saiss saw his side get off to a quick start in their play-off second leg at home in Casablanca – having drawn the opening fixture 1-1 on the road. Azzedine Ounahi gave Morocco a 2-1 lead on aggregate, before their lead was extended further just before half-time. Ounahi got his second just after the break, while the Atlas Lions were certain of a place in Qatar when the game was put out of sight 15 minutes later when Achraf Hakimi scored his country’s fourth. Although Ben Malango scored a consolation for the visitors, it was the Wolves defender and Morocco who will be looking forward to Friday’s World Cup finals draw.

Leander Dendoncker | Belgium 3-0 Burkina Faso

With his country already set for World Cup action this winter, Leander Dendoncker and Belgium faced another friendly on Tuesday evening, hosting Burkina Faso in Brussels. Following his 90 minute performance in midfield at the weekend, the Wolves man came off the bench at half-time of his country’s 3-0 win, but in a centre-back position. Dendoncker replaced Lyon’s Jason Denayer on the left of Belgium’s back three, but it was a quiet evening for the 26-year-old, who was untested in his defensive duties, allowing him to make his trademark runs up the pitch as he looked to further the scoreline in favour of his side.

Hee Chan Hwang | United Arab Emirates 1-0 South Korea

Over in AFC World Cup qualification on Tuesday, it was a disappointing end to the campaign for Hee Chan Hwang and his South Korean side. The forward put in an under-par display as the United Arab Emirates came out on top in the final group match of qualifying, which left Korea second in their group. But with the top two in the table booking their spot on the plane for Qatar and having already done enough in their earlier group stage matches to know defeat in this round of fixtures would not see them overtaken, South Korea would not have felt too despondent by the result.

Willy Boly, Conor Coady | England 3-0 Ivory Coast

Two Wolves defenders almost had the opportunity to go head-to-head in a friendly at Wembley yesterday evening, but it wasn’t to be, as both Willy Boly and Conor Coady started on the bench for their respective countries as Boly’s Ivory Coast fell to a 3-0 loss to Coady’s England. With his country two goals – and one man – down going into half-time after Serge Aurier’s red card, Boly came into the action in the second-half, while Coady remained an unused substitute, and it was almost the perfect performance from the Wolves man as he came so close to keeping the Three Lions out during his 45 minutes on the pitch, until Tyrone Mings headed in England’s third deep into added time.

Fabio Silva | Greece U21 0-4 Portugal U21

In attack, Fabio Silva started and scored for Portugal under-21s as they got their Euro U21 Championships qualification campaign back on track following a disappointing draw at the weekend, in which the Wolves man didn’t make an appearance. With Portugal already two goals to the good going into the break, Silva was slipped through the Greece defence before slotting coolly past his opposition keeper to give his team an unassailable lead. The visitors added a fourth in the second-half to regain the lead from Greece in their qualification group. Fellow Wolves man Morgan Gibbs-White – currently on loan at Sheffield United – was also in Euro U21 qualifying this week as he added to his goal for England at the weekend with an assist on Tuesday night to set up Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun for their third in a 3-0 win over Albania.

Coming up…

Raul Jimenez will be hoping to fire Mexico into one of the final World Cup spots in the early hours of Thursday morning (2.05am) as they face El Salvador at the Estadio Azteca. Mexico require just a point from their final CONCACAF qualifying clash to guarantee their place in Qatar.