Kai Havertz netted his third international goal for Germany as there were wins all around for Chelsea players starting their World Cup qualifying campaigns on Thursday.
Havertz started on the left side of Germany’s attack, with Antonio Rudiger at the heart of a familiar back three, as Germany made a flying start to their qualifying group with a 3-0 win at home against Iceland.
Joachim Low’s side raced into an early lead by scoring the opener in the third minute, and just a further four minutes had passed when Havertz struck. The 21-year-old timed his run perfectly to meet Leroy Sane’s low cut-back just inside the box and find the gap between defenders to send a left-footed shot low into the net.
Rudiger also came close to adding his name to the scoresheet shortly before half-time, but saw his header drift just wide, and Havertz had a second goal via a precise volley disallowed for offside before being replaced by Timo Werner with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
At Wembley, both England full-backs for their 5-0 win over San Marino were provided by Chelsea, with Ben Chilwell and Reece James starting on opposite flanks, while Mason Mount took his position in midfield.
Chilwell and Mount were heavily involved in the move that resulted in the first goal by James Ward-Prowse with some slick passing down the left. Not to be outdone, James then whipped in the cross from the right which allowed Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head in England’s second.
Mount and James both made way as part of several half-time substitutions by Gareth Southgate, but Chilwell continued and it was his defence-splitting pass which created the opportunity for the fourth goal by Calvert-Lewin.
Emerson Palmieri went close to getting a goal during an impressive attacking performance in Italy’s win over Northern Ireland.
He frequently got into the box to meet crosses and went agonisingly close with one header at the back post. The left-back made way with 15 minutes left and his side leading 2-0, which is how it ended.
Armando Broja continued his fledgling international career, coming off the bench to earn his fourth cap for Albania, playing the last 10 minutes of their 1-0 win away in Andorra.
Andreas Christensen featured throughout for Denmark as they opened their qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 victory away in Israel earlier in the evening.
The Blues defender went close to opening the scoring early on with a header from a Christian Eriksen corner, but it wasn’t long before they took the lead.
Christensen made a number of important blocks as Israel briefly tried to fight back at a goal down, but a second strike after half-time settled what was a fairly routine victory for Denmark.
Christian Pulisic played the first 45 minutes of the USA’s 4-1 friendly win over Jamaica in Austria. From his place on the left-wing, his movement was responsible for creating the space for full-back Serginio Dest to surge forward and open the scoring, before Pulisic was withdrawn at the break with his side leading 1-0.
Baba Rahman helped Ghana secure their place at January’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament by earning a vital point away against South Africa.
At kick-off of this penultimate fixture, those two teams and Sudan were all joint-top of their qualification group on nine points. Baba played the full match for Ghana as they sent themselves three-points clear, opening the scoring four minutes before half-time.
They conceded an almost immediate equaliser, but the 1-1 draw suited the Black Stars far better than their opponents, as the fact South Africa and Sudan meet in their final games mean Ghana are guaranteed to finish at least second regardless of their result against Sao Tome and Principe on Sunday.
Baba will now set his sights on making Ghana’s squad for the delayed Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which will be held in Cameroon at the start of next year.
Earlier in the day, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marc Guehi were both in the team as England Under-21s suffered a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in their opening game of the European Championship group stage. Conor Gallagher was an unused substitute.
Hudson-Odoi went closest to scoring for the Young Lions, forcing a save with a curling free-kick with the game goalless, but it was the Swiss who found a second-half breakthrough and made a winning start to their campaign.