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Fit-again captain Mile Jedinak helps Australia seal World Cup qualification

Tim Cahill talks the importance of Mile Jedinak to Australia despite his countless injuries.
Mile Jedinak's second-half hat-trick booked Australia's place in Russia at the expense of Honduras.
Australia's Mark Milligan discusses the tough journey to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup.

SYDNEY -- Australia booked their place at the 2018 World Cup after a convincing 3-1 win over Honduras in Sydney on Wednesday night. Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak was the hero for the hosts, scoring all three goals for Australia, including two from the penalty spot.

Here are three thoughts from the match.

1. First half bore, second half score

Is that harsh on the first 45 minutes? Perhaps Australia's endeavour was on show for a few moments in the first half, with golden chances for Mathew Leckie...

Draw against Portugal first step for U.S. away from Trinidad debacle

Dave Sarachan says several young players showed potential for long-term success with the U.S. in their draw at Portugal.
Teenager Weston McKennie scored a debut goal, but the U.S. had to settle for a draw at Portugal after a goalkeeping howler.
Dave Sarachan praises U.S. goalkeeper Ethan Horvath's ability to recover after his howler resulted in a goal for Portugal.

LEIRIA, Portugal -- As the U.S. players filed through the mixed zone following Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Portugal, one could sense a collective exhale taking place.

To be clear, this wasn't an exhale that accompanies a good feeling or some state of contentment. Rather, it was the kind of sensation in which a searing pain is hurting just a little bit less, with the hope that the trend will continue.

Yes, there were smiles, and why not? If you can't break into a grin after scoring on your international...

U.S. youngsters impress in 1-1 draw in Portugal, end 2017 on positive note

Teenager Weston McKennie scored a debut goal, but the U.S. had to settle for a draw at Portugal after a goalkeeping howler.

LEIRIA, Portugal -- The U.S. men's national team closed the book on a thoroughly disappointing 2017 with a credible 1-1 draw against reigning European champions Portugal.

U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie, making his international debut, put the visitors on top in the 21st minute, but a terrible error from goalkeeper Ethan Horvath allowed Portugal defender Antunes to equalize 11 minutes later.

Here are three thoughts from the Americans' final game of the year.

1. A glimmer of hope after disastrous...

 By Nick Miller

Inexperienced England stifle, earn admirable draw vs. full-strength Brazil

Gareth Southgate says England earned a respectable result against a Brazil side he considers the best in the world.
Neymar hails Brazil's ability to create chances against England, noting the Three Lions' propensity to defend.
Gabriel Jesus explains why he thinks Brazil's scoreless draw against England was reflective of their entire year.

LONDON -- Here are three points from Wembley as England and Brazil played out a 0-0 draw in an international friendly.

1. Goalless draw uneventful but not pointless

Two friendlies, 180 minutes, 20 players used and no goals. Those bare facts might lead you to conclude that England's two games over this last week have been a waste of time. That would be the negative spin, but the positive is that Gareth Southgate's severely depleted side have not lost to two of the favourites for next summer's...

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Christian Eriksen stars as Denmark rout Ireland 5-1, book World Cup spot

The FC panel pile on the praise for Christian Eriksen's hat-trick performance that powered Denmark's thrashing of Ireland.
Ireland scored first but Denmark came back in a big way behind the talent of Tottenham's Christian Eriksen to book a spot in the World Cup.

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Three points from Tuesday's UEFA playoff as Denmark booked a place at the 2018 World Cup with an emphatic 5-1 win over Ireland.

1. Eriksen destroys Irish resistance

With three goals from three chances, Christian Eriksen rocketed Denmark to Russia. Ireland had simply no answer to Tottenham's playmaker as his display of Danish dynamite destroyed their dream of reaching a first finals since 2002.

Instead, Denmark will make their first appearance at a World Cup since 2010, when...

Ventura's missteps, shallow player pool responsible for Italy's World Cup woe

Relive ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti's passionate response after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Sweden held off Italy to advance to the 2018 World Cup, while the Italians failed to qualify for the first time since 1958.
Sweden held off Italy to advance to the 2018 World Cup, while the Italians failed to qualify for the first time since 1958.
Watch the reaction of Italy's players after the four-time world champions missed qualifying for a 15th straight World Cup.
Gab Marcotti and Craig Burley go back and forth on how much Gian Piero Ventura is at fault for Italy missing the World Cup.

MILAN, Italy -- Perhaps this had been coming for Italy. Successive group-stage exits at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and a head coach in charge whose greatest achievement in a 41-year career was promotion from Serie C in 1996 -- the warning signs were certainly there.

But for a World Cup to take place without Italy, the four-time world champions and two-time runners-up, still feels like a jolt; it's one of those realities that will take weeks, months, to sink in.

Netherlands missing out on Russia...