Xherdan Shaqiri assists twice in 3 minutes as Thiago and Tsimikas face off

Xherdan Shaqiri assists twice in 3 minutes as Thiago and Tsimikas face off

Xherdan Shaqiri set up two goals in three minutes as Switzerland began their World Cup qualifying campaign with a win, on the second night of Liverpool internationals.

While Shaqiri plays a bit-part role for the Reds, he is a first-choice starter for his national team, and made his 87th appearance for Switzerland on Thursday.

It came in their first World Cup qualifier away to Bulgaria, and saw the 29-year-old shine in a creative display that saw the visitors go 3-0 up within 13 minutes.

Shaqiri started as a No. 10 behind the strike pairing of Haris Seferovic and Breel Embolo, and it was the latter who broke the deadlock early, heading home Ricardo Rodriguez’s cross.

The Liverpool midfielder then laid on the second for Seferovic, laying a smart pass across to the Benfica forward who held it up and powered it in.

Three minutes later, Shaqiri had supplied another, and there was initial confusion over whether his pass had already crossed the line as it squirmed under Plamen Iliev at the near post, before Steven Zuber made sure it counted.

Bulgaria grabbed a consolation through Kiril Despodov just after half-time, but despite the game opening up slightly afterwards, it was a comfortable win for Switzerland.

Shaqiri played 75 minutes in Sofia, keeping things tidy in his central attacking role, finishing the night having created the joint-most chances of any Switzerland player (two) as well as making the most tackles (three).

Andy Robertson of Scotland during the International Friendly match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date 7th September 2018. Picture credit should read: Richard Lee/Sportimage via PA Images

Elsewhere, Andy Robertson played the full 90 minutes as captain from left wing-back as Scotland twice came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Austria.

Kostas Tsimikas also started and lasted 80 minutes in Greece’s 1-1 draw with Spain, with Thiago coming off the bench for the final 18 on a disappointing evening for the hosts.

It was a battling night for Tsimikas, who ended the game having made the most touches (44) and the most tackles (five) of any Greece player, in what was a smash-and-grab draw.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Egypt's Mohamed Salah during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group A match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mohamed Salah was celebrating in Kenya as Egypt secured a 1-1 draw that was enough to book their place at the Africa Cup of Nations for the 25th time, joining Sadio Mane‘s Senegal and Naby Keita‘s Guinea at the tournament in 2022.

The No. 11 played the full 90 minutes, and produced a clever flick in the buildup to Mohamed Magdy’s opening goal, with the game hallmarked by the Rory Delap-esque long throws of Kenya’s Daniel Sakari, as Egypt were forced to defend throughout.

There was disappointment for Curtis Jones, though, as he played just 24 minutes off the bench in England’s 1-0 loss to Switzerland to kick off the U21 Euro group stage.

Finally, Takumi Minamino played 86 minutes as Japan sealed a 3-0 friendly victory over South Korea.

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