International Blues: Kovacic plays in huge Croatia win while Ampadu loses in Belgium | News | Official Site


Mateo Kovacic and Ethan Ampadu both played in the UEFA Nations League on Thursday night, while two Chelsea youngsters were involved in England Under-21s’ win over Italy.

Kovacic and Croatia knew that if they beat Denmark at home they would overtake Denmark and the Group A1 leaders on Sunday before the last matchday where they play Austria.

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic played the Chelsea star in all four Nations League games ahead of tonight, picking him again in the engine room in Zagreb.

Kovacic started in midfield three alongside Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic and Croatia took the lead just minutes after the second half kicked off when Stuttgart’s Borna Sosa scored for the hosts.

Manchester United’s Christian Eriksen then equalized the goal line with an exquisite strike from 25 yards. Mateo Kovacic was substituted moments later before Lovro Majer restored the Croatian lead with another fantastic goal, this time a left-footed shot from outside the box.

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Kovacic tried two shots and 63 passes in Zagreb.

Chelsea and Wales defender Ethan Ampadu, currently on loan to Serie A side Spezia, faced Belgium in Group A4, with the Welshman bottoming out with just one point from a possible 12 before kick-off.

Wales lacked Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen in midfield and that meant Chelsea’s Ampadu started in central midfield, with three former Blues leading the Belgian attack, with Kevin De Bruyne, Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard leading the line.

And it was De Bruyne who put the hosts ahead by firing a brilliant first left-footed shot into the bottom corner despite a hand from Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

It was Batshuayi who passed De Bruyne’s opener and the latter then retaliated, setting up the striker to double Belgium’s lead before half-time.

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Wales then pulled back through a Keiffer Moore header but it wasn’t enough as Wales suffered a fourth defeat in their first five Nations League competitions.

Romelu Lukaku, on loan at Inter Milan from Chelsea, has missed the last four Serie A games with a muscle injury and has not been called up to the Belgium squad as a result.

Elsewhere in youth internationals…

England’s Under-21 team will repeat the men’s team’s fixtures, first playing Italy before hosting Germany at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

After winning their group, the Young Lions have already qualified for the 2023 European U21 Championships in Romania and Georgia next summer.

Conor Gallagher and Levi Colwill started for Lee Carsley’s men against Italy. The former, who made his Chelsea debut on the opening day of the season, won a penalty for the away side just three minutes later after being fouled by Edoardo Bove.

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A quick double from Sheffield United’s Rhian Brewster was enough to secure victory for the Young Lions in Pescara.

England could have scored more than the two goals when defender Levi Colwill hit the post with a header from a corner in first-half injury time, before Chelsea midfielder Gallagher was later thwarted by a last-ditch block from Caleb Okoli.

Both Chelsea connections were substituted around the 70th minute.

Chelsea’s Sam McClelland, who is with the top-flight League Two Barrow this season, was with the Northern Ireland U21s when they host Scotland in a friendly.

The hosts were 2-0 down at half-time and went three goals after the break before scoring a consolation goal to make Scotland 3-1.

They will travel to Scotland for a replay on Sunday.



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