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Internationals: Belgium hold on, Fabregas captains Spain

Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard helped 10-man Belgium secure a crucial Euro 2016 qualifying win in Israel, while Cesc Fabregas skippered Spain for the first time in a friendly defeat to Holland.

Belgium’s clash against Israel in Jerusalem was the only qualifying match of the night in Europe, re-arranged from September last year for security fears.

As usual, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard started for the Red Devils and they got off to the perfect start when Marouane Fellaini bundled the ball in from close range.

Despite plenty of the ball Belgium didn’t add to that advantage – though they should have had a penalty after a Christian Benteke shot was handled – before half-time.

Hazard was replaced by Nacer Chadli of Tottenham just after the hour and then Vincent Kompany was shown a second yellow card and dismissed. Courtois was called into action twice in quick succession as Israel began to take the game to their visitors, and our keeper needed to be at his commanding best to deal with the many crosses coming into his box.

Belgium hung on for the win though, one which takes them top of a highly competitive Group B, level on points with Wales who are their next opponents in June.    

In friendly action, Cesc Fabregas captained Spain from the start for the very first time on the occasion of his 95th international appearance.

In a re-match of memorable games at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, they took on Holland and like in the contest in Brazil last summer it was the Dutch that emerged victorious, two early goals doing the damage.

Fabregas played the full 90 minutes in Amsterdam.

Petr Cech was not involved in Czech Republic’s 1-0 friendly defeat to neighbours Slovakia, while Gary Cahill was an unused substitute in England’s 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin.

Christian Atsu played 67 minutes of Ghana's draw with Mali by the same scoreline in Paris, going close to opening the scoring early on. Mali's equaliser came after his withdrawal.   

At Under-21 level, Tomas Kalas was brought on very late on in Czech Republic’s 1-0 win over Portugal in Prague. The Czechs host this summer’s European Championships at that level and this was their first win in four against sides competing at the tournament.

There was disappointment for the healthy Chelsea contingent in the England Under-19 set-up as they missed out on a place at this summer’s European Under-19 Championships.

Izzy Brown captained the side that knew they had to beat France to qualify. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Charlie Colkett were deployed in central midfield behind him.

Brown was harshly denied a penalty early on after being felled rounding the keeper, and the young Three Lions were punished further before the interval when France took the lead. Not long after that, Brown fired a presentable chance over.

France doubled their lead five minutes into the second half before a fourth Chelsea player entered the play with a quarter of an hour remaining, Ola Aina introduced at right-back. England almost immediately pulled a goal back, good work from Loftus-Cheek setting up Fulham’s Patrick Roberts to score. That was the final goal however meaning England narrowly missed out on qualification.

Colkett was withdrawn with eight minutes to play while Alex Kiwomya was an unused substitute. 

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