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Byline: ANDY KELLY Liverpool FC Editor AndyK_LivNews @

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE played 45 minutes for Belgium as he returned to their starting line-up for the European Championship qualifier against Cyprus after recovering from a thigh strain.

Liverpool's PS32.5m striker endured a lowkey night in Nicosia and was replaced at half-time by fellow Anfield frontman Divock Origi. However the change appeared tactical rather than injury related and it is expected Benteke will be fit to lead the line for Liverpool against Manchester United Old Trafford on Saturday evening.

Origi was on the pitch as Chelsea's Eden Hazard secured a late 1-0 Belgium victory.

It was a bad Sunday for Dejan Lovren as he couldn't fight his way back into the Croatia starting line-up for the trip to Norway after being dropped for Thursday night's game against Azerbaijan, a tie which finished goalless.

There was worse to come for Croatia as they lost 2-0 to Norway, a team they defeated 5-1 in the return match in qualifying in March. Lovren stayed on the bench and his nation have now been replaced in the automatic qualification zone by the Norwegians in a group which also includes Italy.

Lovren's defensive partner Martin Skrtel is likely to return to the Slovakia line-up tomorrow night for what will be a crucial European qualifier with Ukraine.

The Liverpool centre-back missed the 2-0 defeat against Spain in Oviedo on Saturday after collecting a one-game ban for accumulating yellow cards.

That result saw Spain leap-frog Slovakia into top spot in Group C and makes the home clash with Ukraine a vital one for Slovakia, with Skrtel's team just three points clear of their rivals in second spot.

Skrtel, 30, was part of the Slovakia team which enjoyed a famous 2-1 victory over Spain in the qualifiers last year where he came out on top in a battle with Chelsea's Diego Costa. It was Costa though who won a penalty for Spain's second goal on Saturday, converted by Andres Iniesta, after Alba's early header had sent Spain on their way.

Emre Can is likely to feature for Germany tonight in their qualifier against Scotland after making his full debut on Friday in the world champions' win over Poland.

Reds Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner will both expect to be back in action for England against Switzerland at Wembley tomorrow, although with qualification secured with Saturday's 6-0 win in San Marino, Roy Hodgson may be tempted to make some changes.

Coutinho and Firmino will be part of the Brazilian squad to face the USA in Foxborough, Massachusetts tomorrow - a game for which 24,000 tickets have already been sold - although both had to settle for a place on the bench in Saturday night's 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica, Coutinho playing the last 25 minutes.

Jordon Ibe and Joe Gomez will hope to be part of Gareth Southgate's team for the U21s first qualifier in Norway today after playing an hour in the friendly against the USA in Preston last Thurdsay night.


Christian Benteke played in Belgium's win over Cyprus, in which Eden Hazard (left) scored the only goal

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 7, 2015
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