Sadio Mane hits milestone goal & Tsimikas handed valuable minutes with Greece

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Sadio Mane was the star man for Senegal after both scoring and providing an assist in a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau, while Kostas Tsimikas was handed a valuable 45 minutes of action.

Wednesday saw six senior figures play out the first of the November internationals across the world, with friendlies and qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations on the agenda.

For Mane, it was the latter as he joined Senegal in the matchup against Guinea-Bissau on his return to international duty after missing the October fixtures due to a positive COVID-19 test.

And while Mohamed Salah and James Milner are Liverpool’s regular penalty takers, it was all Mane’s responsibility on the international stage after his side were awarded a spot-kick on the cusp of half-time thanks to a clumsy foul.

He was emphatic with his finish straight down the middle to edge his side into the lead with a milestone goal which made Senegal’s joint-third highest goalscorer of all time, with 20 to his name.

A small crowd in the stadium were able to watch as Mane’s goal-scoring contributions continued as he played the ball across the edge of the box to an on waiting Opa Nguette in the 74th minute.

Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy made a number of solid saves to preserve Senegal’s clean sheet, with the 2-0 victory ensuring they sit at the top of Group I with maximum points after three games played.

For Naby Keita, meanwhile, he played the full 90 minutes in Guinea’s 1-0 win over Chad – a result which moved his side to the top of Group A having pick up seven points from a possible nine.

It was only the midfielder’s second taste of action since the defeat at Aston Villa having played only the final 25 minutes in the 5-0 thumping of Atalanta after fitness issues.

Injecting minutes into his legs should prove handy for the Reds with a flurry of games on the horizon ahead of the festive period, to which Tsimikas also benefited from in a friendly affair.

The left-back played only the first 45 minutes against Cyprus in a friendly before being withdrawn at half-time, a point where Greece had established a two-goal lead which has halved by full-time.

It was Tsimikas’ fourth cap for his country and he will hope to add to the tally when his side turn to their Nations League meetings with Moldova and Slovenia.

jubilation 2: 4: goalkeeper Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands). GES / Soccer / EURO Qualification: Germany - Netherlands, 06.09.2019 Football / Soccer: European Qualifiers: Germany vs Netherlands, Hamburg, September 6, 2019 | usage worldwide

The opposite would have pleased Liverpool fans in regards to Gini Wijnaldum and Diogo Jota, however, with the pair both playing less than 45 minutes in friendly outings for Netherlands and Portugal respectively.

Wijnaldum, the newly appointed Netherlands captain, played only the opening half against Spain in a double-pivot with Frenkie de Jong against Spain, a game which highlighted the absurdity of international football within this climate.

Nathan Ake limped off the field after just five minutes with a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw, while a clash of heads also forced the withdrawal of Hans Hateboer and Spain’s Jose Gaya.

Thankfully, Wijnaldum escaped without harm but there are still two games to contend with this month in the Nations League – a competition Jota could also feature in more heavily after featuring in the final 16 minutes in Portugal’s 7-0 thumping of Andorra.

Finally, Xherdan Shaqiri played on the right-wing in the second half of Switzerland’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium, where Crystal Palace‘s Michy Batshuayi’s second-half double cancelled out the Swiss opener.

More Reds are in action on Thursday evening, with a friendly for Jordan Henderson as England take on the Republic of Ireland, with whom Caoimhin Kelleher will be hoping for some minutes.

Neco Williams will likewise be targeting another cap for Wales as they host the USA in a friendly.

But it is Andy Robertson and Marko Grujic who have it all to fight for in the play-off final for a place in Euro 2020 between Scotland and Serbia.

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