Eight Blues were involved in international friendlies on Wednesday evening, with Olivier Giroud grabbing the headlines on a night of personal milestones in the French capital...
Olivier Giroud was the toast of Paris and, in fact, the whole of France as the striker hit two goals on his 100th international appearance to move outright second in the all-time goalscoring charts for Les Bleus.
The 34-year-old led the world champions out as captain in Paris and did not shirk his responsibilities as the man of the moment as he joined an exclusive club of French footballing centurions.
Rennes teenage midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, a possible Champions League opponent at club level next month, had already opened the scoring by the time Giroud joined Michel Platini on 41 goals for France and it was a fittingly special strike to mark the landmark moment.
Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, the forward took two touches to control and set the ball in position and then curled a thundering strike into the top corner with that trusty powerhouse left foot.
The moment that took him past Platini in the scoring stakes and to within nine of record goalscorer Thierry Henry was also typical Giroud. Lurking on the shoulder of the last defender, he was quickest to react when the goalkeeper parried a fierce strike from Houssem Aouar and crouched low to nod a stooping header into the back of the unguarded net.
An own goal before the break gave the hosts a 4-0 half-time lead although Ukraine, managed by former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko, did at least reduce the deficit in the second period at the Stade de France before three goals in the final 25 minutes gave Didier Deschamps’s men a big 7-1 victory. N’Golo Kante did not feature from the bench.
A special night then for Giroud as he moves into the pantheon of Gallic greats – only seven men have more French caps than him and just one has more goals – although how much he deserved the acclaim of 80,000 appreciative Parisians as he left the field with 15 minutes to play.
In Cologne, Kai Havertz took his strong start to the season at club level onto the international stage, setting up two goals in Germany’s 3-3 draw with Turkey on just his eighth appearance for the national team.
The 21-year-old provided a defence-splitting forward pass from the right for Julian Draxler to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time, before demonstrating mesmerising quick feet on the edge of the box to set up the second for Florian Neuhaus.
Turkey conjured an equaliser on both occasions and then again to snatch a draw four minutes into added time after Benfica’s Luca Waldschmidt had seemingly won the contest late on. Havertz was replaced in the closing stages, while Toni Rudiger played the opening hour. Timo Werner missed out with a slight cold.
Kepa Arrizabalaga kept a clean sheet on his return to the starting side for Spain as they drew 0-0 with Portugal. La Roja dominated possession in Lisbon but it was the hosts who came closest to breaking the deadlock with two efforts against the crossbar from Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches.
Although Jorginho remained an unused substitute, Emerson Palmieri was involved in Italy’s big win over Moldova. The full-back was introduced after 66 minutes with the Azzurri already five goals ahead after a rampant first half in Florence. The final score was 6-0.
In St Gallen, Mateo Kovacic played an hour as Croatia came from behind to beat Switzerland 2-1 with goals from Wolfsburg forward Josip Brekalo and former Blue Mario Pasalic, now at Atalanta. The World Cup runners-up have Nations League encounters with Sweden and France up next.
Andreas Christensen came off the bench to help Denmark see out a comfortable 4-0 victory over Faroe Islands. The defender replaced Bournemouth’s Philip Billing for the final 18 minutes and almost added a fifth goal when his header was clawed away by the visiting goalkeeper. The Danes are winless in their opening two Nations League group games and face England at Wembley next week.
Earlier in the day, Callum Hudson-Odoi played the final 15 minutes of a surprise 3-3 draw for England’s Under-21s in Andorra as the young Lions edged closer to qualification for next summer’s European Championship at that age group.
The 19-year-old entered proceedings with the score deadlocked at 2-2 following earlier goals from Everton’s Tom Davies and Brentford’s Josh Dasilva. Despite fellow substitute Eddie Nketiah finding the back of the net with just eight minutes remaining, England dropped two points with the concession of another late equaliser.
Marc Guehi was an unused sub. Aidy Boothroyd’s side can secure qualification with a win over Turkey at Molineux on Tuesday.