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Chelsea internationals: Hazard settles Courtois vs. Begovic battle

The final scoreline may have been 3-1 in favor of Belgium, but both Thibaut Courtois (4 saves) and Asmir Begovic (3 saves) rose to the challenge in what turned out to be a fairly tense and entertaining Euro 2016 qualifier between Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  With the win, the Red Devils have all but secured their passage to the final tournament — the three games they have left are against Cyprus, Andorra, and at home against Israel.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed, and the locals were quite stunned were Edin Dzeko gave the visitors the lead just 15 minutes in.  Alas, he scored too soon.  The uncategorizable Marouane Fellaini headed in the equalizer from Kevin De Bruyne's corner a few minutes later.  The newly minted second most expensive purchase in British football history then took matters into his own hands, fizzing a drive by the unsighted Begović.  I once saw De Bruyne in preseason open training in Seattle, WA; his appetite for powerful long range bombs remains my strongest memory of him.  While the shot was perhaps of savable height and distance, I'm pretty sure Begović didn't see it until it flew by the defender in front (and, due to a lack of spin, unexpectedly passed the defender on the left, rather than the right).

In the second half, Courtois kept Bosnia at bay with a couple good saves, before, with just over 10 minutes to go, Hazard settled any nerves Belgium and their fans may have had.  We've already see the converted penalty — cool as ever — but perhaps the part we should be the happiest about is the run that led to the penalty.  Hazard has been a bit subdued in the early going this season, and he wasn't really central to Belgium's gameplan in this game either, but we will need him to do these sorts of things more often:


Elsewhere, Tomas Kalas was an unused substitute as the Czech Republic, with Petr Cech in goal, came from behind to beat Kazakhstan 2-1.  Combined with the Netherlands losing to Iceland, the Czechs are sitting pretty in second place in Group A, 6 points ahead of the third place Dutch with three matches left.

In youth international action, there were wins for Croatia U21 (Mario Pasalic started), England U21 (Loftus-Cheek started; Chalobah played the final 30), and England U18 (Jay Dasilva started and was captain).  Kyle Scott converted a penalty for USA U20, but they lost to Serbia U19 3-1.

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