Internationals: England debuts for Ruben and Tammy

Chelsea Academy graduates Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham made their senior England debuts tonight in a goalless draw against Germany, with Loftus-Cheek’s performance earning him the man of the match award. Congratulations to them both.

Loftus-Cheek shone in a young England side and the man currently at Crystal Palace completed the 90 minutes, turning in an assured debut performance in central midfield. Abraham, on loan at Swansea, played an hour and enjoyed a well-contested battle with Toni Rudiger, our defender who was deployed on the left side of a German back three.

Within the opening two minutes Abraham was close to turning in a low Jamie Vardy centre after England breached Germany’s offside trap, but under pressure from Rudiger he didn’t make contact, and Kieran Trippier could only hit the side-netting.

In midfield, Loftus-Cheek looked composed and creative in equal measure, finding space and starting attacks for the Three Lions. Abraham had one half-chance deflected wide.

For much of the half, it was Germany who had the better of the play in the final third, with Leroy Sane hitting the underside of the bar, Jordan Pickford making two outstanding saves, and Phil Jones clearing a Sane shot off the line.

But approaching the interval, England asserted themselves with Loftus-Cheek influential, full of silky touches and turns, and his excellent through ball set Jamie Vardy free, whose lobbed effort was cleared close to the goal.

At half-time, England’s Under-17 World Cup winners were paraded around the pitch including five Chelsea youngsters: Callum Hudson-Odoi, George McEachran, Jonathan Panzo, Marc Guehi and Conor Gallagher.

When play restarted Loftus-Cheek continued to dominate, showing composure and vision on his senior debut. Unsurprisingly, he was named man of the match. Another Chelsea youth product, Jack Cork, now at Burnley, made his debut in the closing stages.

Ultimately, neither side could find a breakthrough, with Vardy going closest after the break, so it ended honours even at Wembley. England host Brazil on Tuesday, when Gary Cahill could return to the side having sat out this game.

 Abraham gets his head to the ball under the watchful eye of Rudiger

In a World Cup play-off, Italy lost 1-0 to Sweden in Stockholm, and deservedly so. Davide Zappacosta was an unused substitute for the 2006 winners, who must now turn it around on Monday night at the San Siro.

Focusing back on friendly action, Eden Hazard scored for Belgium as they drew a thriller 3-3 against Mexico. It was our forward’s 21st goal for his country in 82 appearances. After Mexico levelled from the spot, Hazard came close to putting the Red Devils back ahead but he was superbly denied by the visitors’ keeper.

Thibaut Courtois played the full game with Hazard replaced by his younger brother Thorgan with time almost up.

It was a memorable night for young Ethan Ampadu too as he made his senior debut for Wales in a loss to France at the Stade de France, brought on for the final 25 minutes with Chris Coleman’s side already trailing to an Antoine Griezmann goal. Olivier Giroud added a second goal in a 2-0 win for Les Bleus.

In Africa, Ola Aina made his full Nigeria debut as they drew 1-1 in Algeria. The Super Eagles, without the injured Victor Moses, had already qualified for the World Cup. Aina played the full game at left-back with Algeria’s goal a very late, equalising penalty. Kenneth Omeruo was an unused sub. 

Fikayo Tomori started for England Under-21s as they secured a 2-0 victory against Ukraine in Kiev in European Under-21 Championship qualifying.

The result consolidates England’s position at the top of their qualifying group with a home fixture against Ukraine next, in March.

Elsewhere in qualifying for that age group, Danilo Pantic played an hour of Serbia’s 3-1 win in Austria. Cole Dasilva featured for the first half of Wales’s 4-0 loss to Bosnia, three of those goals scored after his withdrawal.