Despite a number of injury-enforced withdrawals, there were plenty of Benfica stars in international action this week, and no fewer than six got themselves on the scoresheet. Read on to find out how each player fared while representing their country.
Eliseu won his 26th and 27th caps for Portugal, as Fernando Santos’ men collected maximum points against the Faroe Islands and Hungary in World Cup qualification. The Azorean left-back started the 5-1 thrashing of the Faroe Islands at the Estádio do Bessa, and came off the bench to replace the perennially-injured Fábio Coentrão in Budapest as Portugal claimed a 1-0 win over the ten men of Hungary. Bruno Varela was an unused substitute in both games, while Pizzi was forced to withdraw from the squad through injury. Portugal are now guaranteed at least a play-off spot, but could still qualify for Russia 2018 as Group B winners if they can overhaul Switzerland in their final two fixtures.
Andreas Samaris played his first competitive football of the 2017/18 season this week. The 28-year-old midfielder completed the full 90 minutes as Greece suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Belgium at the Karaiskakis Stadium, collecting his customary yellow card in the 55th minute. Three days earlier, he remained on the bench as his country were held to a goalless draw by Estonia. Greece can no longer qualify for the World Cup as Group H winners, but they can still make it via the play-off route if they can overtake second-placed Bosnia & Herzegovina in their remaining two matches.
Haris Seferović continued his sensational goalscoring form, scoring three goals in Switzerland’s two World Cup qualifiers. The 25–year-old striker bagged a brace in a 3-0 home win over Andorra, before contributing a goal and an assist in the 3-0 away defeat of Latvia. Switzerland thereby maintained their 100% record in Group B, and remain top with just two games left to play.
Raúl Jiménez is likely to be playing at the World Cup next summer after Mexico sealed their qualification this week with a 1-0 win over Panama. The 26-year-old forward played no part in that fixture, but was arguably Mexico's best player against Costa Rica four days later, setting up their only goal in a 1-1 draw.
Jhon Murillo had a night to remember on Tuesday, scoring the goal that held a star-studded Argentina side to a 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires. Venezuela remain bottom of the CONMEBOL standings, and can no longer make it to Russia 2018, but the result will have salvaged some pride for Rafael Dudamel’s men. Five days earlier, Murillo played 30 minutes as a substitute as his country claimed a creditable 0-0 draw against Colombia.
André Carrillo’s chances of a first World Cup appearance were done no harm this week as Peru secured a 2-1 home win against Bolivia and a 2-1 away win versus Ecuador. The 26-year-old winger completed 87 minutes of the former encounter, and had a very eventful evening in the latter; he picked up a booking and an assist before being substituted in the 74th minute.
Cape Verde, positioned 114th in the FIFA world rankings, sealed successive 2-1 victories over 66th-ranked South Africa to keep their dream of World Cup qualification alive. Carlos Ponck played all 180 minutes at the heart of the Cape Verde defence, propelling his side from fourth to second place in CAF group D, level on points with leaders Burkina Faso.
Hamdou Elhouni scored the winning goal in Libya’s 1-0 home win against Guinea on Monday night, but did not feature four days earlier, when his nation lost 3-2 to the same opponents in Guinea. Libya remain bottom of CAF Group A, and can no longer make it to Russia 2018.
Portugal got their Euro 2019 qualification campaign off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over Wales in Chaves. João Carvalho, Rúben Dias, Francisco "Ferro" Ferreira and Pedro Amaral all started, while Diogo Gonçalves joined the game in the 56th minute, replacing former Benfica star Gonçalo Guedes, who scored Portugal’s second goal of the night.
It was a good week for Benfica’s Serbian contingent, who masterminded a 4-0 home win over Gibraltar in Euro 2019 qualifying. Andrija Živković and Luka Jović both contributed a goal and an assist, while Ivan Šaponjić featured as a second-half substitute.
Conversely, it was a disappointing week for Portugal’s under-20 side, who lost 3-0 to the Czech Republic and 1-0 to the Netherlands. Benfica’s Alex Pinto and Hélder Baldé both started the first fixture, while Pinto and Fábio Duarte featured in the second.
Chris Willock started England’s 3-0 win over the Netherlands in Telford, before playing 28 minutes as a substitute in their 0-0 draw with Switzerland in Winterthur.
Florentino Luís, Gedson Fernandes, Mesaque Djú and Nuno Santos were all involved as Portugal’s under-19 side secured a 3-0 victory over Finland, a 2-2 draw with the Netherlands, and a 3-1 win against Belgium at a friendly tournament in Vassa. Djú scored an injury-time goal against Belgium as Portugal topped the group to take home the trophy.