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Belgium struggle to score without Hazard; Kanté helps France to easy victory

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Belgium v Greece - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

More low-key international action from this latest never-ending international break as qualifying continued for the 2018 World Cup in the European region with several Chelsea players involved on Saturday.

Most of that action was from Group H, where the top two teams met in a battle for table-topping supremacy while the closest challengers hoped to keep pace in third place.

Group leaders Belgium entered the day with a two-point lead over Greece, and that’s how they all stayed after 90 minutes in Brussels, with the hosts struggling to find the cutting edge to cancel out Greece’s opener, let alone get all three points. With Eden Hazard missing through a calf injury (and hopefully recovering well for next weekend’s game against Palace), it was once and future Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku who finally got Belgium back on level terms with an equalizer a couple minutes from time. Thibaut Courtois played the whole game and had very little do to against a team that ended the day with 9 players.

The biggest beneficiaries to these dropped points were Bosnia & Herzegovina, for whom Asmir Begovic kept a clean sheet in a 5-0 pasting of lowly Gibraltar. Halfway through qualifying, only three points separate Belgium in first from Bosnia in third in Group H.

Elsewhere, France huffed and puffed before dispatching Luxembourg 3-1 (N’Golo Kanté played the full 90) while six Chelsea youngsters were involved in wins for England U20 and England U17.

The England seniors will be in action tonight against Lithuania (though Gary Cahill is suspended), so there’s something to watch for. Maybe.