Our round-up of today’s international action involving Chelsea players includes news of a brief return to action for Billy Gilmour and good wins for England and Ghana…
We start at Wembley where England defeated the Republic of Ireland 3-0 in a friendly. Mason Mount and Reece James both started for Gareth Southgate’s side, with the latter completing the full game and Mount playing 73 minutes before being replaced by debutant Jude Bellingham.
Southgate opted for a 3-4-3 formation, with James deployed at right wing-back initially and Mount in the middle of the park. James made one important intervention early on, but other than that the Three Lions were almost entirely dominant.
Mount took 10 corners in the first half alone, and from one that was not fully cleared, the ball was sent back in for Harry Maguire to head England in front.
James and Jack Grealish linked up well and our man’s low cutback found Dominic Calvert-Lewin eight yards out. Only a diving block prevented him doubling England’s advantage, but Jadon Sancho would soon do just that with an accurate low finish.
England continued to dominate in the second half and James flashed a shot wide after making an interception on halfway. A foul on Bakayo Saka gave Calvert-Lewin the chance to extend England’s lead from the spot, and the Everton man made no mistake.
He was replaced by Tammy Abraham with 30 minutes remaining as England saw out the result with ease. James completed the game on the right side of a back three following Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ introduction. The other Chelsea man in the squad, Ben Chilwell, was an unused substitute.
England play Belgium away on Sunday and then host Iceland next week in a UEFA Nations League double-header.
Earlier on Thursday, Billy Gilmour’s return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off was short but not sweet. Brought on with half-an-hour left of Scotland Under-21’s European Championship qualifier at home to Croatia, Gilmour saw his country complete a comeback from 2-0 down to 2-2, before he was dismissed for dissent with 73 minutes played after disputing a decision.
It finished 2-2 at Tynecastle so Scotland’s Under-21 side still have a chance at qualifying for next year’s tournament. They play Greece away on Tuesday, although Gilmour will be suspended.
In Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, Baba Rahman started for Ghana as they beat Sudan 2-0 in Cape Coast. Swansea’s Andre Ayew scored a goal in each half to secure a deserved victory. Another on Tuesday, this time away to Sudan, will guarantee the Black Stars a place at the next Africa Cup of Nations, due to be held in Cameroon in early 2022.
Matt Miazga featured throughout for the USA as they and Wales played out a goalless draw in Cardiff. Ethan Ampadu was an unused substitute for the friendly, with Christian Pulisic having returned to Cobham earlier this week to continue his recovery from injury.
In other international news, congratulations to former Chelsea defender and assistant manager Steve Clarke, who guided Scotland to qualification for next summer's European Championships after they beat Serbia on penalties. It will be their first major tournament in 23 years and they will be in the same group as England. Hungary, North Macedonia and Slovakia were the other nations to qualify tonight.