Thursday 14 December 2017

Mourinho blow as Marouane Fellaini set for three weeks on the sidelines

United midfielder Marouane Fellaini faces two weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury. Photo:Martin Rickett/PA
United midfielder Marouane Fellaini faces two weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury. Photo:Martin Rickett/PA

Jamie Holland

Jose Mourinho has suffered a setback ahead of Manchester United's visit to Liverpool on Saturday with Marouane Fellaini ruled out for up to three weeks with knee ligament damage.

Fellaini was substituted less than half an hour into Belgium's 4-3 Group H qualifying win away to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday after an opponent landed awkwardly on his left knee.

Subsequent scans revealed that Fellaini has suffered a medial ligament strain and, while there is relief the injury is not more serious, the Belgian's absence is still an untimely blow for United ahead of a crucial run of games.

Fellaini's Belgium and United team-mate Romelu Lukaku missed the Bosnia game with a minor ankle problem but may yet feature against Cyprus in Brussels tomorrow, although Mourinho will hope Belgium coach Roberto Martinez does not take an unnecessary risk with the fitness of his leading goalscorer.

Chelsea meanwhile were left sweating when midfielder N'Golo Kante tweaked a hamstring playing for France against Bulgaria on Saturday night.

Clinched

Despite Kante's injury, Les Bleus clinched their first victory in Bulgaria for 85 years to move back to the top of Group A .

France had failed to win on any of their last seven visits to Bulgaria but Blaise Matuidi's early goal proved enough for a 1-0 victory in Sofia.

Sweden all but guaranteed themselves second place an 8-0 thumping of Luxembourg, who held France to a goalless draw in their last outing.

A 3-1 win in Belarus keeps the Netherlands in third place, three points behind Sweden, who they face in Amsterdam tonight. However, Sweden have a far superior goal difference, meaning it would take a seven-goal victory for Dick Advocaat's side to reach the play-offs.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah's stoppage-time penalty earned Egypt a 2-1 win against Congo and a place in the finals for the first time since 1990.

Salah, whose goal just after the hour-mark had been cancelled out by Congo's Arnold Bouka-Moutou in the 88th-minute in Alexandria, converted from the spot in the fourth minute of additional time.

Fans at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria were already celebrating victory when Bouka-Moutou cancelled out Salah's opener with two minutes to go.

But deep in added time Egypt were awarded a penalty and Salah held his nerve to send the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Elsewhere, Costa Rica have booked their place at the finals after a 1-1 draw against Honduras - thanks to an injury-time equaliser from Kendall Watson.

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