There was Chelsea involvement as Belgium failed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals after losing to Switzerland, while Spain secured a friendly win over Bosnia & Herzegovina...
Eden Hazard captained Belgium as they surrendered a two-goal lead against Switzerland and lost 5-2, a result which means the Swiss, rather than Roberto Martinez’s side, qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals.
The Belgian’s went into the game needing just a draw, or even a narrow defeat, to progress, and they got off to the perfect start as Thorgan Hazard – Eden’s younger brother – gave them the lead after just two minutes when he capitalised on a mistake in the Swiss defence.
Eden started the game on the left of the attacking trio, with his sibling on the right and Dries Mertens playing through the middle. Michy Batshuayi, scorer of a brace against Iceland on Thursday, was among the subs.
If there was an element of fortune about Thorgan Hazard’s opener, the same certainly couldn’t be said about his second goal, which arrived after 17 minutes, the Borussia Monchengladbach man carrying the ball forward and drilling a right-footed strike into the far corner from just outside the box.
The visitors, leading 2-0, looked completely in control but midway through the first half Switzerland were handed a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty. Ricardo Rodriguez made no mistake from the spot, stepping forward and sending former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois the wrong way to reduce the deficit, and just five minutes later they were level as Haris Seferovic stole in at the back post to convert from close range.
Hazard almost restored Belgium’s advantage soon after at the end of a move which he had started, but the Chelsea man was unable to bring a Youri Tielemans delivery down and get his shot away, and a dramatic contest was then completely turned on its head just before half-time as Switzerland took the lead, Seferovic scoring his second of the night by whipping a right-footed shot into the far corner.
The home side then added two further goals in the second half to compound Belgium’s misery and progress to the finals at their expense.
Batshuayi was introduced just after the hour mark but an evening which had started so well for Belgium ended in frustration.
Spain were in friendly action this evening with Kepa, Alvaro Morata and Cesar Azpilicueta all featuring in their 1-0 win against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Both Kepa and Morata started the game for the home side, while Azpilicueta was introduced early in the second half and played at right-back.
Brais Mendez of Celta Vigo scored the only goal of the game in the second half, shortly after both Kepa and Morata had been withdrawn.
Earlier in the day, Ivory Coast qualified for the African Cup of Nations following their 1-1 draw against Guinea, although Victorien Angban didn't feature.