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International round-up: Chelsea veterans lose, youngsters win

Ian Walton/Getty Images

Five Chelsea players saw the green non-artificial turf of international football on Saturday.  One saw the green-colored artificial turf as well, though Eniola Aluko did not score in England's 2-1 win over Mexico at the Women's World Cup.  England face group leaders Colombia on Wednesday and will likely need a win to advance out of the group stages.

Games are of slightly less importance currently on the men's side, though Serbia really needed a result against the Danes to get their Euro 2016 qualification campaign back on the right track.  Alas, it was not meant to be, despite Branislav Ivanovic's and Nemanja Matic's best efforts, both of whom played the full game.  For the hosts, Andreas Christensen received his second international cap in just as many games, once again coming on as a late substitute to help lock down the defensive midfield.  Christensen played the final fifteen minutes, and did well.  Denmark's 2-0 win helps them keep pace with group leaders Portugal, while Serbia have 1 point after 5 matches and are effectively out of the running for next summer's tournament.

Down in Africa, the qualification campaign for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations got underway this weekend.  For their first game, Nigeria head coach Stephen Keshi went with a fairly young and experimental side that included three debutants in an effort to shake the Super Eagles out of their slumber.  Mikel wasn't even called up, though Keshi insists it was just a short-term, tactical decision and that the Chelsea man will be back in September.  Victor Moses was also missing as he recovers from his season-ending injury.  Kenneth Omeruo was there and played the whole game, by all accounts putting in a better performance than he has been of late for both club and country.  Nigeria did eventually manage to win 2-0, though Chad held out at 0-0 for over an hour.  Apparently young Rabiu Ibrahim of the Slovak First Division was the key man for the Super Eagles.

In further ACN qualifying action, Burkina Faso won 2-0 against Comoros, though just like Nigeria, also couldn't break down the unfancied visitors until the second half.  Bertrand Traoré did not score but did start, and, by most accounts, was impressive.  Most importantly, every win and every cap should get Traoré closer to that ever-elusive work permit.

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