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Chelsea midfielders dominate for England U21s and Serbia

A bit of actual football to tell you about on this fine Towel Day, which is now also known as the day we all learned about image rights and trademarks in football.  Jose Mourinho is the gift that keeps on giving.

In any case, Chelsea players were involved in two friendlies, both turning out rather well for all concerned.

In the south of France, England U21s made it three wins from three with a comprehensive dismantling of Paraguay at the Toulon Tournament.  The 4-0 win means that England are all but assured a spot in Sunday's final.  A draw against Japan on Friday would guarantee it.

As expected, Southgate rotated the squad again, giving starts to the first-choice players who won against Portugal last week.  Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Baker, and Nathaniel Chalobah all started, while Kasey Palmer and John Swift both made substitute appearances.  This was the first game in which all five Chelsea boys were involved, and all four goals had a Chelsea touch.

Lewis Baker got things started 30 minutes in, smashing a pass from Ruben Loftus-Cheek past the previously staunch Paraguay defense.  No goalkeeper in the world would've stopped this one.

Paraguay were still holding on at half-time to the slim deficit, but Loftus-Cheek quickly ensured that there would only be one winner on this day.  Five minutes after the restart, he doubled England's lead, then 15 minutes later he put the game to bed with a lovely chipped finish.  Baker added an assist to his tally for England's fourth.

Nathaniel Chalobah had another strong game as the midfield anchor, though one would expect all five Chelsea boys to shine at this age level at this point.

Earlier, at the senior level, Serbia played a friendly against Cyprus in new manager Slavoljub Muslin's first game in charge.  Serbia have had a terrible few years in international football, but even they didn't have any problems dispatching the visitors, settling the tie with two goals in the first ten minutes and then seeing out the remaining 80 without too many issues to win 2-1.  On an even more positive note, Nemanja Matic apparently had a very strong game at both ends of the pitch while wearing the captain's armband in Branislav Ivanovic's absence (which, and I'm just speculating here, probably has something to do with his late season injury).

The only reason the game was close on the scoreboard was this hilarious own goal from Nikola Maksimovic.


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