Teams look to secure spot in FIFA World Cup Russia 2018; group qualifier stages continue
Every fan of league soccer goes through a deep period of mourning and dehumanization anytime club soccer goes on a break because of international call ups during the season. This last game week, all the major leagues in Europe took a break due to international friendlies and world cup qualifiers looking forward to Russia 2018.
Here are a few of the major highlights, on the games over the international break.
Belgium rains down on Estonia
Eden Hazard is a man on a mission not just at the club level but at the international level as well. After a disappointing last season, Hazard has come back with a chip on his shoulder and Chelsea fans, as well as Belgian Red Devils, are more than thrilled to see him play with such class.
The 25-year-old left winger, who has seven goals for Chelsea thus far, captained Belgium to a resounding 8-1 win over Estonia. The skipper was exemplary in getting on a beautifully placed through pass, getting into space on the right flank and calmly placing it into the net.
Certainly, Belgium and Chelsea, Hazards country and club teams respectively, have a bright future to look forward to as the former PFA Premier league player of the year looks to continue to be in stellar form.
Hazard also won the player of the year award in Lille FC and is the youngest player to ever win the award in the Ligue 1. Coming to the premier league, he also won the young player of the year award, the season before his PFA player of the year award.
Hope for England in qualifiers
The English national team has not been good in a long time. For a team who has a FIFA world cup to their name, the Lions have been subpar in recent years, as seen in their earlier disappointing run in the 2016 Euros.
However, with the young talent they have in players like Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli, as well as the presence of veterans such as Gary Cahill and Joe Hart, there is definitely hope looking into the future. England played Scotland this weekend, took a three goal win and maintained a clean sheet.
Great efforts from Liverpool’s Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill secured the wins for the English side. Newly appointed manager, Gareth Southgate, is off to a great start with the English side in the qualifier games.
Nigeria downs Algeria in African-Giant showdown
The first-ever African player to win the Premier league player of the year award, Riyad Mahrez, faced off premier league counterparts in Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Mikel Obi. Mahrez, who finished last season with double digit goals and assists, lost to the Super eagles by a two goal deficit.
Victor Moses’ excellent form in the premier league translated to the international game by scoring a well-earned brace in the twenty-fifth minute and the ninetieth minute. Skipper John Obi Mikel led in exemplary fashion as well as he scored a goal against the Algerians in the forty-second minute as well.
Algerian center back Nabil Bentaleb did get his side a consolation goal in the sixty-seventh minute to strike the hope for an equalizer but to no avail. The partnership of Mahrez and fellow Algerian and Leicester City teammate Islam Slimani could not get passed the Nigerian defense, but the Leicester duo still look to the future to get a spot in the 2018 world cup.
Ronaldo inspires Portugal win
Still riding the great performance at the 2016 Euros, the Portugese faced Latvia and took the win in a 4-1 game. Cristiano Ronaldo, the favorite to bag the Ballon D’or award in Jan. 2017 captained his team to a win, contributing a brace from a penalty and an eighty-fifth minute effort as well.
William Carvalho, the center defensive midfielder, also contributed a goal and Bruno Alves in the ninetieth-minute delivered the dagger, making it four. Portugal will most likely be a lock for a spot in Russia 2018, and, looking forward, the fans hope for a healthy Cristiano Ronaldo.
Regular league soccer resumes this weekend, but for more updates on the international level, keep an ear to the ground to hear more news on results and fixtures.