Internationals: Tom’s bow
Manchester United players enjoyed a largely successful night on international duty – but the biggest smile surely belonged to Tom Cleverley on the occasion of his senior England debut.
After returning to action with the Reds in Germany on Saturday, Cleverley made his first appearance for the Three Lions in neighbouring Switzerland – where Wednesday’s friendly with Italy was staged. The young midfielder, who turned 23 at the weekend, joined the recalled Michael Carrick in completing an impressive 90 minutes as England won 2-1 in Berne. Roy Hodgson’s men conceded an early header by Daniele De Rossi but bounced back to claim the victory with goals in each half from centre-back Phil Jagielka and substitute Jermain Defoe. Ashley Young made it a trio of United players in the starting eleven, but he was replaced by Manchester City’s James Milner just past the hour mark.
Nani was also triumphant, as Portugal overcame Panama 2-0 in a friendly. The United winger was rested from the 62nd minute, by which time both goals had been scored by Nelson Olivieira and former Reds forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Earlier in the day, Shinji Kagawa played a full game for Japan in their 1-1 home draw with Venezuela; Yasuhito Endo scored for the hosts.
Patrice Evra helped his national team to keep ex-United striker Diego Forlan quiet, as France drew 0-0 at Grande Stade du Havre with Uruguay – for whom Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was absent. The draw was an improvement on Les Bleus’ previous two outings, both of them 2-0 defeats at Euro 2012 to eventual winners Spain and final group opponents Sweden.
Sweden were the opposition for another United full-back on Wednesday night – albeit one who watched from the bench as unused substitute. Olympic silver medallist Rafael did not get a kick as Dani Alves and company comfortably won 3-0 in Solna, courtesy of Leandro Damiao’s opener and a late double by Alexandre Pato.
United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard was also a spectator as Stephan Andersen conceded thrice in the second half, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat for Denmark against Slovakia.
Other Reds likely to be in international action during the night UK time were Javier Hernandez for Mexico against USA, and Antonio Valencia in Ecuador’s US-based duel with Chile. No doubt they, and their manager Sir Alex Ferguson, will be relieved that United have an extra couple of days to prepare for the league opener at Everton on Monday evening.