International

France, Denmark and Nigeria win, Belgium held

N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud featured for France as they came from behind to beat Germany 2-1 in the UEFA Nations League this evening, and there were also wins for Denmark, Nigeria and England Under-21s.

Kante and Giroud, who played an important role in France’s World Cup triumph this summer, were named in a strong starting 11 by manager Didier Deschamps, but it was the visitors who took an early lead when Toni Kroos converted from the penalty spot after Presnel Kimpembe had handled inside the box.

Kante was paired with Paul Pogba, who he will be up against when we take on Manchester United on Saturday, as the two deep-lying midfielders for France, with Giroud leading the line and attempting to bring the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann into the game.

Mbappe almost equalised early in the second half, but the leveller eventually came from the head of Griezmann just after the hour mark.

It was Griezmann who then won it for the hosts 10 minutes from time when he beat Manuel Neuer from the penalty spot, scoring his second of the game and turning the contest on its head, before Kante was withdrawn in added time. Kurt Zouma was an unused sub for France, who are now four points clear of the Netherlands at the top of the group, albeit having played a game more.

Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi featured for Belgium, who were in friendly action against the Netherlands, with the match ending all square.

Hazard was named in the starting line-up and skippered the hosts, who took the lead after just five minutes with a stunning volley by Napoli’s Dries Mertens.

Memphis Depay was unfortunate not to equalise midway through the first half when he was denied by Simon Mignolet, but the Netherlands were level just three minutes later when Depay turned provider, picking out Arnaut Groeneveld who made no mistake from inside the penalty area.

Eight minutes before half-time a decent opportunity fell the way of Hazard, but the in-form attacker’s effort rolled just wide of the far post.

His evening came to an end when he was replaced by younger brother Thorgan at the break, while Batshuayi came on for Romelu Lukaku. The Chelsea striker, currently on loan at Valencia, was quickly involved in the action and almost restored Belgium’s advantage when his header from a corner was well saved, and soon after he got away from his man and sent a fierce drive inches wide of the post. Former Chelsea defender Nathan Ake started for the Netherlands.

Andreas Christensen played just over an hour of Denmark’s friendly win against Austria.

Christensen started in a central midfield role, alongside Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, as Denmark won the game thanks to Lukas Lerager’s 29th-minute strike and a last-gasp Martin Braithwaite goal.

Christensen was replaced by Mike Jensen after 62 minutes.

In Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, Ola Aina played the full game as Nigeria edged a five-goal thriller against Libya.

The defender, who is on loan at Italian side Torino, started at right-back for the Super Eagles, who were 2-0 up inside 17 minutes thanks to goals from Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa. The home side hit back, however, and after reducing the deficit 10 minutes before the break, Libya drew level 16 minutes from time.

There was still time for a further twist, though, and with just nine minutes remaining Ighalo scored his second goal of the game to win it for the visitors. Aina completed the full game for Nigeria, who are one point clear at the top of the group.

Matt Miazga was an unused sub for the USA as they drew  1-1 in a friendly against Peru.
 

England had already booked their place at the European Under-21 Championships next summer after thumping Andorra 7-0 last week, and Aidy Boothroyd’s side brought the curtain down on their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Scotland at Tynecastle this evening.

There was plenty of Chelsea interest, with three quarters of the England back four made up of our players as Jay Dasilva made his first start for the Under-21s at left-back, while Fikayo Tomori partnered captain Jake Clarke-Salter in central defence. Further forward, Tammy Abraham [pictured above] led the line, and there was a place in the home side’s starting line-up for 17-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour.

Abraham went close when he met an inviting Dasilva cross in the first half before Clarke-Salter passed up another good opportunity from close range as he directed his header wide. Four minutes before the break Abraham was denied by the legs of Scotland keeper Ross Doohan, who then thwarted the impressive Dasilva in the second half as the full-back fired powerfully towards goal after getting away from his marker.

England were dominant, and it was no surprise when they eventually took the lead on the hour as Reiss Nelson curled home a superb free-kick from 30 yards out.

Having fallen behind, Scotland boss Scott Gemill made a change and it was Gilmour who was replaced, the youngster making way for Lewis Ferguson.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin then came on for Abraham for the closing stages, and with virtually the last action of the game England doubled their lead through Everton’s Kieran Dowell, who cut in from the right-hand side and curled a left-footed strike into the far corner.

Elsewhere in Under-21 qualifying, Danilo Pantic was an unused sub as Serbia were held to a goalless draw at home by Armenia, although they had already secured their spot in next summer’s finals after Friday’s 0-0 draw against Austria ensured they finished in top spot in the group.

Valentino Livramento, meanwhile, was part of the England Under-17s’ team which beat Brazil 3-1 this evening. The result was England's third consecutive win during the international break, following victories over both USA and Russia.

 

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