There can't have been much that Fabio Capello learned as England beat Belarus 3-0 on the final night of World Cup qualifiers, and nothing out of the ordinary happened anywhere else. Makes you wonder what the point of it all was, really.
Portugal, Greece and Ukraine all secured their play-off places as expected, and San Marino ended their campaign with a goal difference of -46 (they scored once, against Slovakia last October).
Aside from the revelations that Gabriel Agbonlahor is a bit nippy, Peter Crouch is a flat-track bully and no England player can sing the national anthem convincingly, there wasn't much else to be gleaned from the dead rubber at Wembley.
The only glimpse of fresh young faces on the Wembley turf last night were the cheeky mascots in front of the Belarus players who winked and made cheeky faces to the camera during the anthems.
Crouch scored twice, but remains resigned to the fact that he will remain a bit-part player for Capello. He must think there's a conspiracy against him.
He will no doubt lose his place against Brazil once Emile Heskey returns and, even after scoring his 16th goal in 17 international starts, he was pipped to the man of the match award by David Beckham, who played all of half an hour.
Capello at least didn't agree, and threatened to cause an international incident by slagging off the US President! Sort of...
"I was a bit surprised," Capello said. "I just thought it was like Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize after eight months as president. He gets the man of the match for 30 minutes here."
To be fair to him, Beckham's introduction did inject some impetus back into England's play, perhaps proving that despite being a one-dimensional 34-year-old he still has the ability to change a game for England, against lesser opponents at least.
Just don't let him near the penalty spot next summer, Fabio.
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The qualifiers certainly ended with a whimper. Well, ED says they've ended, but of course things won't be fully settled in Africa until next month, despite ED's own assertion yesterday that Egypt would be playing Algeria last night. Never mind, eh.
Even Argentina's showdown clash in Uruguay failed to deliver the thrills and heartbreak which had been hoped for.
Ecuador's loss in Chile meant that both sides were assured of at least a play-off place, and Mario Bolatti's late goal secured a 1-0 win and with it an automatic place in South Africa for Argentina.
So it was left to Diego Maradona himself to provide much of the entertainment, and he didn't disappoint. Stood screaming on the touchline in his oversized training coat with his shaggy hair and diamond earrings, he looked like the Michelin Man's menopausal maiden aunt.
At the final whistle, Maradona wept and hugged his general manager Carlos Bilardo as though they hadn't spent the past year at each others' throats.
Had they not qualified, the schadenfreude would have been a joy to behold in the short term. But, ultimately, getting to see countries like Argentina is what the World Cup is all about, and next year's finals would be all the poorer without Maradona. All he needs to do now is keep his job until next June.
That result puts Uruguay into the play-off against a CONCACAF side. That side will be Costa Rica, following the night's only real piece of intrigue.
Honduras reached their first World Cup finals since 1982 when, after beating El Salvador 1-0, they waited with bated breath before hearing that USA had scored a last-minute equaliser against rivals Costa Rica, who had to settle for a play-off place.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "For those who didn't believe in this national team, for those who treated me like garbage (I say) today we are in the World Cup with all the honours, beating a team like Uruguay," - Maradona wastes no time in settling scores with all those naysayers.
FOREIGN VIEW: "What a relief! The national team is in the 2010 World Cup. Diego cried with Bilardo and was crude to his critics." - Argentine sport paper Ole reflects the mood of the nation.
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