From Armenia's humbling of Denmark to Javier Mascherano's red mist, via wins for the USA, South Korea and Uruguay
Some things, like a grown adult in a suit happily gamboling around town on a child's scooter, force you to stop, stare and rub your eyes in disbelief. You just do not expect to see it, just as you do not expect to flick through the results pages and find yourself confronted by the news that Armenia, who lost 1-0 at home to Malta last Friday and recently drew 1-1 in Luxembourg, won 4-0 in Denmark. The victory will probably not be enough for Armenia to qualify for next summer's World Cup given that they are fourth in Group B, three points behind the Czech Republic and four behind Bulgaria, but it will still go down as one of their greatest ever nights.
Lest we forget, Denmark were good enough to beat Holland at Euro 2012 and, with a bit more luck, could have qualified for the last eight at Germany's expense. Yet they were humiliated on Tuesday night. "It's the worst night of my footballing life," Denmark's coach, Morten Olsen, said. "It's incomprehensible that we couldn't perform better, but it's 100% my fault." The newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, was less generous in its assessment, telling six players to "change sport" and giving Andreas Bjelland, Christian Eriksen, Simon Kjaer, Simon Poulsen and Dennis Rommedahl 0/6 for their part in one of the most embarrassing defeats in Denmark's history. Eriksen, the paper said, will be staying at Ajax if there are many more performances as wretched as this one. Kjaer was "completely hopeless" and Poulsen a "disaster".
Denmark started badly, a mistake from Kjaer allowing Yura Movsisyan to score after 27 seconds, and it got worse from there. After 19 minutes, Aras Ozbiliz doubled Armenia's lead, before Movsisyan, who plays for Spartak Moscow, scored his second after an hour, and with nine minutes left Shakhtar Donetsk's Henrikh Mkhitaryan showed why Liverpool are after him with a fine solo effort. The Danish fans still left in the stadium greeted the goal with ironic applause.
Anything André Bikey can do, Javier Mascherano can do better. Bikey was sent off in Cameroon's win over Ghana in an Africa Cup of Nations semi-final for pushing a medic, missing the final as a consequence, and now Mascherano has emulated him, earning a bizarre red card for kicking a medic during Argentina's draw with Ecuador in Quito. There were four minutes remaining when Mascherano, who had suffered an injury, was being taken off the pitch on a buggy and suddenly all hell broke loose. Television replays showed that water was squirted in Mascherano's direction and his response was to kick the shoulder of the man driving the buggy, before reacting with incredulity when he was sent off and pulling out his best lemme-at-him-lemme-at-him routine as his team-mate, Ezequiel Lavezzi, held him back. Mascherano apologised afterwards, although this is not the first time he's made a show of himself – who could forget his tantrum when he was sent off for dissent when Liverpool lost to Manchester United in 2008?
One of the most pressing issues Mark Hughes faces at Stoke is to rejuvenate a midfield that was painfully drab and lumpen under Tony Pulis, who was ultimately unable to construct a team that could offer anything beyond huff and puff. It is unlikely that Hughes, or anyone for that matter, will have been looking at Geoff Cameron as the answer to that particular problem. Indeed, the reaction was slightly apprehensive when Cameron was named in central midfield for the USA's match against Panama but he confounded those low expectations with a composed display and even played a hand in Eddie Johnson's goal. Perhaps he has been wasted at full-back.
The stage had been set for Uzbekistan to qualify for the World Cup for the first time, eight years after they were controversially denied a place at the 2006 finals, and to do so they had to win away in South Korea. Yet while Uzbekistan were hoping to make history, South Korea knew they would be closer to qualifying for their eighth consecutive tournament if they won and Akmal Shorakhmedov's first-half own goal was enough for them. It was a bad night for Uzbekistan, who slumped to third place after Iran beat Lebanon, a victory which ended Qatar's hopes of a trip to Brazil next year. Still, full steam ahead for 2022.
It has been a surprise to see Uruguay struggle to the extent that it remains a possibility that the Copa América champions might not qualify but it seems that they are finally getting their act together after their 1-0 victory in Venezuela. The win moved them into fifth place, which would put them into an intercontinental play-off, and above Venezuela on goal difference, although they are five points adrift of Chile. However, they could take encouragement from winning without the suspended Luis Suárez. Edinson Cavani, who could join Chelsea from Napoli this summer, ensured Suárez's absence was not felt by scoring the only goal after 28 minutes.
• THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN AMENDED TO NOTE THAT SOUTH KOREA HAVE NOT YET QUALIFIED