Garcia hat-trick highlight of Reds international weekend

Liverpool’s international players were busy over the weekend, playing in friendlies, World Cup playoffs and UEFA Under-21 games.

Probably the happiest Red over the weekend is Luis Garcia, who scored three for Spain on Saturday.

On Friday night England Under-21s took on France’s equivalent in a UEFA knockout first leg. The game ended 1-1, with Liverpool’s Anthony Le Tallec scoring France’s goal, past Liverpool’s Scott Carson in goal for England. John Welsh, still officially a Liverpool player but set to move to Hull in January was an unused England sub. Florent Sinama-Pongolle was an unused sub for France, who were leading until three minutes from the end and were more interesting in holding on to their lead. The second leg is on Tuesday in Nancy.

On Saturday it was the turn of the full international players. The biggest representation of Liverpool players was in Spain, where the home side included four Liverpool players. Only Luis Garcia was selected to start, and he repaid that gesture by scoring a hat-trick. Xabi Alonso and Fernando Morientes were brought on as subs later on, and Morientes got another goal for Spain. They won 5-1 in the end, and had Pepe Reina on the bench. Afterwards Garcia was clearly happy: "Without a doubt it was the sort of night that every footballer dreams about. As well as being a very important game in which a lot was at stake, it was my first start for the national team. It worked out perfectly. Luis Aragones showed he had confidence in me and I’m very happy I have responded with those goals. We’ve shown we deserve to be in the World Cup. After what we’ve done I think we can be a bit more confident for the next match."

Also involved in a first-leg playoff for World Cup qualification was John Arne Riise, who saw his Norway side beaten by the Czech Republic. The player scoring for the Czechs was one of the heros of Istanbul, Vladimir Smicer with an unlikely header. 

Harry Kewell had the mixed fortunes of getting a full 90 minutes under his belt, but was on the losing side for Australia as they went down 1-0 in Uruguay.

Friendlies were also being played yesterday, and one of those saw England play Argentina in Geneva. Steven Gerrard played the whole 90 minutes for England. He was started on the left side of midfield, later moved to a more central role, and finally to right-back as Eriksson made changes to his team. England’s second goal came from an excellent ball from Gerrard towards former Reds team-mate Michael Owen, who scored the first of his two goals. Owen got his second, narrowly beating the Reds’ Peter Crouch to head England into the lead. Crouch came on as substitute and started causing worry for the Argentine side as soon as he arrived.

Another friendly saw Djibril Cisse play the last twenty minutes for France as they played out a goalless draw with Germany.