West Ham star Michail Antonio is finally an international football player five years after he first received a call-up to join the national set-up.
In the end, his cap was awarded as a Jamaican international not representing the Three Lions after the striker decided to switch his allegiance to the country of his parents’ birth.
Unfortunately for Antonio, it was not a victorious start to his career with the Reggae Boyz as they fell to a heavy 3-0 home defeat to Panama. It was Jamaica’s second defeat in six days and leaves them off the pace in their bid for World Cup qualification.
Fellow Hammers Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and Alex Kral were also on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline with the Czech Republic defeated in the top of the table Group E encounter with Belgium.
Soucek captained his national team with Coufal also in the starting line-up, while Kral appeared as a 77th-minute substitute and helped ensure the 3-0 scoreline did not get any worse.
The defeat leaves Czech Republic in second place, six points behind Belgium and one clear of Wales in third spot.
Pablo Fornals capped a return to the international fold with an assist after coming on as a second-half substitute for Spain against Georgia.
It was the 25-year-old’s first cap since 2018 and the Hammer made the most of it, laying on an assist for Pablo Sarabia to add the fourth Spanish goal just three minutes after coming on.
The win sees Spain top Group B, one point ahead of Sweden, albeit with the Swedes having two games in hand.
Two West Ham players went head to head when Ukraine hosted France in Kyiv. Andriy Yarmolenko and Kurt Zouma both started the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw to leave the French top of Group D with Ukraine third level on points with second-placed Iceland.
New West Ham signing Nikola Vlasic started for Croatia as they sealed a 1-0 away victory over Slovakia on Saturday to move level with Russia on ten points at the top of a tight Group H.
Declan Rice was an unused substitute for England during the Three Lions 4-0 win over Andorra, while former Hammers loanee Jesse Lingard was on the scoresheet twice with the Manchester United player continuing his fine England form.
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The Hammers were keen to bring Lingard back to the club this summer but the 28-year-old decided to stay in Manchester and fight for a spot in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
Whether this decision is a wise one only time will tell, with Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo both arriving at Old Trafford as Lingard is set for a fight for game time and former England international Lee Dixon believes Lingard must start regularly for Manchester United to remain in Gareth Southgate’s plans.
“He has to play for United to get in the England side,” Dixon said.
“He makes good runs from midfield, that was part of his remit when he went to West Ham. He started to enjoy his football a little bit more, certainly [more than] when he wasn’t playing at United and he was kind of reborn.
“You look at where he is now going back to United, will he play enough minutes, that is the ultimate question.”