International round-up: Northern Ireland put a huge dent in Fabio Capello and Russia's travel plans for Brazil World Cup

 

Martin Paterson's first-half header gave Northern Ireland one of the best results in their history and seriously weakened Fabio Capello's chances of taking Russia to next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.

The Huddersfield Town striker rose highest to meet Niall McGinn's cross in the 43rd minute at Windsor Park and directed the ball past the visitors' goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

It was a first international goal for Paterson, who was leading the line in the absence of the injured Kyle Lafferty. Jamie Ward had clattered the post with a superb effort just two minutes earlier as Michael O'Neill's men looked in command against the Russians.

This was O'Neill's 10th game in charge of Northern Ireland, with the preceding nine yielding five draws and four defeats, but his first taste of success at the highest level was a sweet one as he got the better of former England manager Capello, who is paid £8m a year and is now in serious danger of missing out to Portugal in the battle to secure the automatic World Cup qualification spot in Group F.

The talents of Gareth Bale were sorely missed as Wales and the Republic of Ireland played out the most drab of goalless draws in their friendly at Cardiff City Stadium.

The visitors enjoyed the better of the contest and created the clearer of what chances there were, with Shane Long failing to convert two great opportunities while Robbie Brady and Paddy Madden also went close.

Craig Bellamy's second-half free-kick was as close as toothless Wales came, with Ben Davies failing to make the most of their best chance right on half-time.

Lars Bender salvaged a 3-3 draw for Germany against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern's Fritz-Walter-Stadion, a result that left coach the home side's Joachim Löw pondering serious defensive frailties.

Jose Ariel Nunez opened the scoring with Paraguay's first shot in the ninth minute, and more sloppy defending allowed Wilson Pittoni to make it 2-0 four minutes later.

Ilkay Gündogan pulled one back in the 18th, and Mats Hummels sprang the offside trap for Thomas Müller to equalise in the 31st. But Samudio restored Paraguay's lead before half-time, when the former Bayern Munich striker Roque Santa Cruz found him unmarked at the far post.

Bender saved the home side's blushes in the 75th, when he beat Oscar Romero to the ball, took it on his chest and volleyed into the far corner.

In Basle, Brazil's 11-match unbeaten run ended as Dani Alves' headed own goal gifted Switzerland a 1-0 victory. The Brazil right-back was under no pressure when he guided a 48th-minute cross by Swiss forward Haris Seferovic into the top-left corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Jefferson helpless.

Brazil star Neymar had a frustrating match, enduring some tough challenges before being shown a yellow card in the 23rd minute for a testy tackle on defender Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Neymar's cross in the 38th created Brazil's best opportunity but a header from new Spurs signing Paulinho clipped the top of the Swiss crossbar.

Belgium and France played out a 0-0 draw in Brussels. Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas failed to convert clear opportunities for the Belgians and a good effort by France's Karim Benzema was saved by Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

 

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