Andreas Samaris

32 nations from five confederations will participate in next summer's World Cup. This week, the final spots were decided as World Cup qualification drew to a close around the globe. Three Benfica players appeared in all-or-nothing play-off encounters, while a number of others were involved in friendlies and youth internationals. Read on to find out how they performed.

GREECE
Greece failed to qualify for the World Cup after falling to a 4-1 aggregate defeat in their play-off against Croatia. Andreas Samaris played 62 minutes of the first leg, before he was forced off the pitch through injury. The 28-year-old did not feature in the second leg.

SERBIA
Serbia's caretaker boss Mladen Krstajic showed his faith in Andrija Živković by handing the 21-year-old two senior caps during his team's trip to Asia. Živković repaid his coach's faith by delivering a perfect cross for Serbia’s second goal in the 2-0 win over China, before impressing again in the 1-1 draw with South Korea.

SWITZERLAND
Haris Seferović had a bittersweet week on international duty with Switzerland. His country booked their passage to Russia 2018 with a nervy 1-0 aggregate victory over Northern Ireland, but the Benfica striker was booed and jeered by his own supporters in the second leg, after missing a string of presentable chances.

ARGENTINA
Eduardo Salvio completed 78 minutes on the right wing as Argentina laboured to a 1-0 win over Russia in a friendly in Moscow. The 27-year-old played in an advanced role alongside Lionel Messi and Ángel di María in an unfamiliar 3-3-3-1 formation. Four days later, Salvio remained on the bench as his compatriots slumped to disappointing 4-2 defeat to Nigeria.

PERU
Peru will make their first World Cup finals appearance since 1982 after seeing off the challenge of New Zealand in their two-legged play-off. André Carrillo played 77 minutes of the first leg and 16 minutes of the second as Los Incas achieved a 2-0 aggregate victory to send their supporters into delirium.

VENEZUELA
Jhon Murillo completed 90 minutes of Venezuela's 1-0 friendly defeat to Iran this week. The 21-year-old winger will have to wait for his first World Cup finals appearance, since Venezuela finished bottom of the ten-team CONMEBOL qualification table.

MEXICO
Once again, Raúl Jiménez staked a claim for more regular first team football at Benfica, playing 39 minutes off the bench in Mexico's 3-3 draw with Belgium, before scoring a superb goal in their 1-0 triumph over Poland.

CAPE VERDE
Carlos Ponck played 90 minutes of Cape Verde's disappointing 4-0 defeat to Burkina Faso in their final World Cup qualifier. The Tubarões Azuis finished 3rd in CAF Group D, so Ponck will not feature at Russia 2018.

LIBYA
Hamdou Elhouni lasted the full 90 minutes as Libya and Tunisia played out a 0-0 stalemate in World Cup qualifying. Libya finished third in CAF group A, a full 10 points behind Tunisia, who will be one of the five African nations at next summer's World Cup.

SLOVAKIA U23s
Benfica B midfielder Martin Chrien played 57 minutes of Slovakia under-23s 4-0 win over England, bagging an assist in the process. According to the Portuguese press, the 22-year-old may be loaned out in January to continue his development.

PORTUGAL U21s
Diogo Gonçalves scored from a João Carvalho assist as Portugal were held to a 1-1 draw by Romania in Euro 2019 qualification. Francisco "Ferro" Ferreira, Yuri Ribeiro, Rúben Dias, Pedro "Pêpê" Rodrigues and João Félix also featured. Four days later, Rui Jorge's team secured a vital 2-1 victory over Switzerland, to kickstart their qualifying campaign. Diogo Gonçalves contributed a goal and an assist, but João Carvalho missed a penalty. Dias, Ferro, Yuri, Pêpê and Heriberto Tavares were also in action.

SERBIA U21s
Luka Jović - currently on loan at Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt - scored a penalty in Serbia's 3-1 victory over Austria, before playing 90 minutes of their 1-0 win over Armenia. Serbia remain top of Euro 2019 qualifying Group 7 after picking up maximum points from their first five fixtures.

PORTUGAL U20s
Portugal's under-20 side beat Poland 2-1 in the Elite League, a result which leaves José Guilherme's men just three points behind tournament pace-setters Germany, with two matches still to play. Benfica B's Alex Pinto, Gedson Fernandes, José "Zé" Gomes & João "Jota" Filipe all started the match. Pinto was booked.

ENGLAND U20s
19-year-old winger Chris Willock started England's 2-1 defeat to Germany in the Elite League. The result allowed Germany to leapfrog England and take top spot in the eight-team competition.

PORTUGAL U19s
Portugal claimed a 2-1 friendly victory over Spain at the Estádio do Bonfim in Setúbal, with José "Zé" Gomes scoring the 90th minute winner from the penalty spot. Florentino Luís, Nuno Santos, Gedson Fernandes, João "Jota" Filipe and Mesaque Djú also made appearances.

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