The first international break of 2021/22 is underway and Chelsea players were in action in Europe and Africa on Wednesday night in their bids to make it to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Most countries in Europe are playing the fourth group games of their campaigns. A strong first-half showing by Denmark at home against Scotland kept the Euro 2020 semi-finalists well on track to qualify for the next major international finals.
Andreas Christensen was part of the Danish defence that shut Steve Clarke’s side out, while two goals in two minutes inside the first quarter-of-an-hour, scored by Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle, decided the contest.
Having been clearly second best before the break, Scotland made it a more even contest after it and it was Billy Gilmour who went close when he got on the end of his team’s best move of the match.
The young midfielder, who is spending this season on loan at Norwich, impressed with other moments, and Ryan Fraser had a shot saved late on, but the 2-0 defeat drops Scotland from second to fourth in their group, seven points behind the Danes who have won four matches out of four.
Mateo Kovacic played in a stalemate in Moscow where it finished 0-0 between his Croatia side and hosts Russia. Those two nations began the game level on points at the top of their group and remain so with closest challengers Slovakia also drawing.
Two minutes into added time at the end, Kovacic was part of a lovely move but shot wide from a tight angle.
N’Golo Kante was named among the substitutes for France, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Bosnia and Herzegovina, but remained unused. Edin Dzeko put the visitors ahead with Antoine Griezmann levelling before half-time. France went down to 10 men early in the second half when Jules Kounde was dismissed.
They still lead their group by four points although three teams below have games in hand.
The second stage of World Cup qualifiers in Africa is just beginning and there was a great start for Edouard Mendy and Senegal in their bid to make it to Qatar. There was a comfortable clean sheet for the Chelsea goalkeeper as his team won 2-0 at home to Togo.
The Senegalese had the better of the first half but could not find a way to break the deadlock so went in all-square at the interval. They continued to dominate after it and with 10 minutes of the second period played, they took the lead when Sadio Mane scored.
The victory was sealed in the 80th minute by a fine strike from PSG’s Abdou Diallo on his international debut.
In this stage of Africa’s qualifying competition, 40 teams are divided into 10 groups with only the group winners progressing to a third and final round which will produce five teams for the World Cup finals.