De la Cruz eyes Germany

It was a successful night for Olof Mellberg who scored his second international goal with a second-half header in Sweden’s 3-0 victory over Bulgaria. The three points leave the side just a point behind Group 2 leaders Croatia and on course for a top-two finish. The likelihood of Denmark doing likewise were lessened after a 2-2 draw in Turkey. Thomas Sørenson and Martin Laursen were both absent as Søren Larsen’s last-gasp goal earned the Danes a point to remain four adrift of second in Group 2.

The most likely Villa player to be turning out in Germany next year remains De la Cruz, who was in the Ecuador team that defeated Bolivia 2-1 in La Paz and now need just three points from their remaining two CONMEBOL games to book a finals berth. Team-mates Aaron Hughes and Steven Davis will not be there, but both starred as Northern Ireland defeated Azerbaijan 2-0 at Windsor Park, their first home win for four years. Goals from Stuart Elliott and substitute Warren Feeney earned Lawrie Sanchez’s men a welcome win.


Juan Pablo Angel and Eric Djemba-Djemba are both in action on Sunday.