Milan Baros did his best, but it was his predecessor as West Midlands football's most illustrious international striker, Mikael Forssell, who stole last night's local World Cup honours, writes Ged Scott.

Birmingham City marksman Forssell hit a hat-trick - his first goals in 12 injuryhit months - in Finland's 5-1 win over Macedonia.

It was just over a year to the day since Forssell last scored, also for his country in Armenia. But last night's treble is a big tonic ahead of Blues' home game with Charlton Athletic when he will look to follow up with his first club goal in over 16 months.

Forssell shaded the efforts of Aston Villa's new signing Baros, who also found Armenia to his liking in Prague in another Qualifying Group One fixture.

Having been kept goalless at half-time, Baros helped the Czech Republic go on a second-half scoring spree. Baros, who scored on his Villa debut 11 days ago, found the net again, as Euro 2004's top scorer hit the Czechs' third in a 4-1 win.

Four other Second City rivals were in even more jubilant mood after starring for Northern Ireland in the night's big game in Belfast.

Villa duo Steven Davis, creator of the Irish goal, and Aaron Hughes, the home skipper, had plenty to celebrate afterwards alongside Blues pair Maik Taylor and Damien Johnson.

In fact, Johnson's midfield pairing with Davis was the cornerstone of another famous 1-0 win for Lawrie Sanchez, the man whose goal provided the greatest FA Cup final upset for Wimbledon against Liverpool in 1988.

In Oslo, Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Kenny Miller kept up his amazing start to the season, but at what cost?

Miller's match-winning first-half double for Scotland in their Group Five clash with Norway took his season's haul to five - four of which have come for his country and none for Wolves in the league. But Miller over-stretched himself in going for his hat-trick, and was forced off before the break.

Wolves team-mate Jackie McNamara came through in one piece, but Miller appears to be a fresh injury worry for club boss Glenn Hoddle for Saturday's trip to Luton.

Wolves defender Rob Edwards was recalled by Wales for the 1-0 defeat to Poland in Warsaw, as was West Bromwich Albion striker Rob Earnshaw.

But the four changes made by Wales coach John Toshack meant Coventry City defenders Robert Page and Richard Duffy were rested.

Albion had Inamoto on duty for Japan in a 5-4 friendly win over Honduras back home in Miyagi, while Chris Kirkland was on the England bench in Belfast. And they will also be hoping Hungary's last-minute 1-0 World Cup qualifier home defeat to Sweden, a game that also featured Villa skipper Olof Mellberg, has not taken too much out of Zoltan Gera.

Baggies boss Bryan Robson has gone on the record in the past about his dissatisfaction with the way Gera is treated by his country.