Internationals: King & Knockaert Feature

Andy King and Anthony Knockaert both started for their respective nations on Tuesday night, but neither were able to celebrate victory on a sodden night across the continent.

King was brought into the Wales side in place of the suspended Aaron Ramsey for a difficult-looking trip to Croatia in qualification for the 2014 World Cup.


And despite a commendable performance in terrible conditions from the Foxes midfielder, up against the likes of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Chris Coleman’s side were beaten 2-0 thanks to goals from Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic and former Arsenal striker Eduardo.


The result in Osijek, just a few days after their 2-1 win over Scotland in Cardiff, leaves Wales with three points from their opening four games in Group A of European qualification.


Their next fixture in the group sees them travel to Hampden Park in March 2013 for a critical game against the Scots, before they host Croatia in Cardiff three days later.


Meanwhile, there was heartbreak for Knockaert’s France Under-21 side as they narrowly missed out on a place in next summer’s UEFA Under-21 Championship Finals after a thrilling play-off against Norway.


Les Espoirs, with Knockaert again in the starting eleven, made a disappointing start to the second leg in rain-soaked Drammen and saw their 1-0 first-leg lead quickly wiped out – Norway’s Harmet Singh, Havard Nielsen and Thomas Rogne putting the hosts 3-0 up on the night.


A quick-fire response from Joshua Guilavogui brought the French back to within one goal of progressing, but strikes from Anders Konradssen and Jo Inge Berget extended the home side’s lead in the second half.


Anthony was replaced between those two goals as part of an attacking reshuffle and France rallied in the closing stages, as goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Antoine Griezmann set up a grandstand finish.


But Norway held on to book a place at next summer’s finals alongside Spain, Russia, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and hosts Israel.


Both players will now return to Leicester to join up with the City squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to Birmingham City, as npower Championship action resumes following the international break.


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