Qualification for the 2024 European Championship began during the latest international break, the final pause in the Premier League season.
Europe’s qualification campaign has headlined the international action, but stars from the Premier League have jetted to all corners of the globe to represent their nations this month. Some familiar faces have flourished in the colours of their countries and we’ve looked at six to have impressed.
Here are six Premier League players who have shone during the international break.
Bernardo Silva impressed as Portugal began their path towards the European Championship with commanding wins against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.
Portugal scored ten goals without reply across the two fixtures to take an early lead in Group J. Bernardo doubled Portugal’s lead in the 4-0 win against Liechtenstein just 70 seconds into the second half, as the Manchester City midfielder reacted first to a loose ball to fire home his ninth international goal.
Bernardo Silva scores his 9th goal for Portugal 🇵🇹
The @ManCity man doubles his country's lead early in the second half 🔥#EURO2024 pic.twitter.com/GntvrtZA8m
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) March 23, 2023
The 28-year-old did not have to wait long for his tenth goal in a Portugal shirt, as he scored one and created another in the 6-0 thrashing of Luxembourg three days later.
Silva’s cross was headed home by Joao Felix, before the midfielder got on the scoresheet moments later after glancing Joao Palhinha’s floated pass into the far corner. A perfect start for Roberto Martinez as Portugal boss.
Harry Kane’s record-breaking moment arrived this week as the England captain dispatched his 54th goal for the Three Lions in Italy.
Kane moved past Wayne Rooney’s record as England’s all-time leading goalscorer with a confident penalty in Naples. It was goal which secured Gareth Southgate’s side a first away victory against Italy since 1961, as England’s qualification campaign began in perfect fashion.
Harry Kane gets his Golden Boot after becoming England's top goalscorer 🏴 pic.twitter.com/ttSaSxNVwX
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 26, 2023
Kane then opened the scoring as England beat Ukraine 2-0 at Wembley on Sunday to take control of Group C, following back-to-back wins against the two teams expected to pose their greatest challenge to qualification.
The 29-year-old’s goal was his 55th in 82 appearances for England and Kane has not ruled out reaching a century for the national side.
“Getting 100 will be tough for sure, but I never count out anything,” the Tottenham forward said.
“I am still young – I am 29, I am still fit and strong. I want to play for England for as long as I can.”
Having cemented his status as Tottenham and England’s all-time record goalscorer across the last two months, the next target will be Alan Shearer’s Premier League record and elusive team honours with club and country. So far, so good for Gareth Southgate and England, who look well placed to challenge in just over a year’s time.
The Netherlands endured a nightmare start to their qualification campaign after a 4-0 defeat at the hands of France, as Kylian Mbappe ran riot to secure a comprehensive win for Les Bleus.
Ronald Koeman’s side required a response as the Oranje took on minnows Gibraltar in their second fixture and a comfortable 3-0 victory has put the Dutch back on track. Nathan Ake was the surprise hero for the Netherlands, as the defender scored twice in a game for the first time in his senior career.
The Netherlands had 86% of the possession and fired 56 shots on goal to the visitor’s zero, though needed their unlikely avenue to add to Memphis Depay’s first-half goal. Ake headed in his first from Denzel Dumfries’ cross, before adding a deflected second to seal the win.
+3 points, happy to get my 2 goals! See you again in the summer @OnsOranje 🦁 pic.twitter.com/x9cAwIYjGL
— Nathan Aké (@NathanAke) March 27, 2023
Against admittedly limited opposition, Ake continued his fine form at club level with two goals, a clean sheet, NINE shots and seven key passes for the Dutch. Not a bad night’s work for the defender.
Scott McTominay came off the bench to ensure Scotland started strong with a 3-0 win over Cyprus at Hampden Park.
It’s been a frustrating season for the Manchester United midfielder who has made just seven league starts this season and the 26-year-old found himself overlooked for Scotland’s qualification opener. After an unconvincing team performance he was brought on from the bench in the second half and sealed the win with two late goals.
👊🏴 @mctominay10 seals it!
The @ManUtd man with a brilliant touch and finish high into the net against Cyprus 🎯#EURO2024 | #SCOCYP | @ScotlandNT pic.twitter.com/vWaSv5K2TL
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) March 25, 2023
McTominay burst into the box and finished smartly from Lyndon Dykes’ knockdown as the Scotland substitutes combined, before firing in first time from Andy Robertson’s centre moments later.
It was an impressive introduction from McTominay who added spark to the Scotland side and he will hope to have done enough to earn inclusion against Spain on Tuesday night.
Son Heung-min bounced back from what has been a challenging campaign at Spurs with both goals as South Korea drew with Colombia in Ulsan.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s reign as South Korea began with an entertaining friendly draw with the South American side, with captain Son at the double for the hosts.
Son opened the scoring with a spectacular strike from distance after South Korea won possession in a dangerous area, punishing goalkeeper Camilo Vargas who had vacated his area in the build up.
[GOAL] 대한민국🇰🇷 1-0 🇨🇴콜롬비아
전반 10분! 캡틴 손흥민 선수가 클린스만 감독에게 첫 골을 선물합니다!
상대의 실수로 빈 골문에 깔끔한 슛을 꽂아넣습니다!👍🏻#대한민국 #축구국가대표팀 #3월 #친선경기 #다시카타르 #TEAM클린스만 pic.twitter.com/JMwU4Hf0rV
— theKFA (@theKFA) March 24, 2023
He added a second in first-half stoppage time with a fantastic free-kick, a double which moved the Premier League Golden Boot winner to 37 international goals. He is now the third highest goalscorer in South Korea’s history, having moved ahead of Park Lee-chun.
Cha Bum-kun’s 58-goal record is within reach for the Tottenham forward.
Golazo by Son Heung-min 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/VIlnzf6bbB
— Sports Brief (@sportsbriefcom) March 24, 2023
Is this the start of a purple patch for Marcel Sabitzer around goal?
The on-loan Manchester United midfielder scored his first goal for the Red Devils against Fulham before the break, before ensuring Austria’s Euro 2024 qualification campaign got off to a perfect start.
Sabitzer scored twice as Austria eased past Azerbaijan in their opener, with the 29-year-old sweeping home the opener from Christoph Baumgartner’s cut-back, before bending home a brilliant free-kick.
A Sabitzer special ✨#EURO2024 pic.twitter.com/qs1SNki1w2
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) March 27, 2023
The midfielder also helped himself to an assist as Austria cruised to a 4-1 win and Manchester United will hope a knee issue picked up is nothing serious, after Sabizter remained an unused substitute for the win over Estonia.
Ralf Rangick – who was interim charge at Old Trafford last season before taking up his current role with Austria – was full of praise for the midfielder’s performance.
“Sabi’s performance was outstanding, you can’t say it any other way. He is simply a player with a lot of quality,” he told Laola1. “I think the change did him good. He is literally flourishing, is very, very good.
“He has a lot more confidence than when he was at Bayern. Nobody dropped out in this game, but of course you can say that Sabi was the difference player after scoring two goals and preparing one.”
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