Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and his wife Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser al-Misnad hold a copy of the World Cup trophy he received from FIFA President Sepp Blatter (unseen) after the announcement that Qatar will be the host nation for the FIFA World Cup 2022, in Zurich in this December 2, 2010 file photo. Sheikh Hamad and his glamorous second wife Sheikha Mozah have gained a reputation as modernisers in recent years, however, raising the country’s profile significantly with the launch of the Al Jazeera television network and successful hosting the 2006 Asian Games, as well as initiating the country’s World Cup bid. To match QATAR-NEIGHBOURS/ REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files (SWITZERLAND – Tags: SPORT SOCCER ROYALS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.
[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.
“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.
“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.
This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.
McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.
Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.
[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]
McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).
“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.
“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”
Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.
[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]
Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.
Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales
Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.
Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.
Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.
But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.
Italy 2-0 Albania
Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.
Spain 4-1 Israel
Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.
Croatia 1-0 Ukraine
Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear of Ukraine and three above Iceland midway through qualifying.
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun
Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.
Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.
[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]
Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.
Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.