Whatever ails Michy Batshuayi on loan at Valencia didn’t follow him to Brussels. On Thursday, he got the surprise start and scored both goals in a 2-0 win as Belgium put Iceland’s formerly impenetrable defence to the sword.
Unsurprisingly, Captain Eden Hazard played a critical role in setting-up the opportunities that Batshuayi snapped up.
The first came in the 65th minute, Hazard creating from the left and then drifting in to put a ball in the box.
Bats scored his second fifteen minutes later. Once again, it all began with Hazard making a mess of Iceland’s right flank.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was understandably pleased that his striker didn’t let his club troubles affect his performance with the national team.
“In the first half [Batshuayi] experienced some setbacks. He moved well for the opening goal. I’m glad he scored twice, but he also played a good game. I was delighted with his overall performance. In this type of match you have to remain constantly focused and be able to score a goal with one action.”
-Roberto Martinez; source: FourFourTwo
The win gives Belgium three wins in three in the Nations League. A win or a draw in Switzerland on Sunday guarantees them a place in the finals in 2019.
As for Hazard, it’s now mid-November and he’s still unbeaten on the season, for club and country. No wonder he’s in a such a good mood these days.
Elsewhere, Croatia scored a goal in added-on time to vanquish Spain, 3-2, and keep all three teams alive in their Nations League group. Croatia will play England on Sunday, with the winner claiming top spot and advancement from the group. Spain would finish first if that game were to end in a draw.
Of the five Chelsea players who started on the bench, only Alvaro Morata made an appearance — 25 minutes. Azpilicueta, Arrizabalaga, Kovacic, and Pasalic went unused.
England themselves were involved in a friendly against USA, which saw a semi-experimental and youthful lineup from Gareth Southgate dominate poor at Wembley, 3-0. Matt Miazga started for the Americans who were thoroughly outclassed by the Three Lions’ (mostly) backups.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek got a brief, 20-minute runout while Ross Barkley was presumably being saved for that Croatia showdown.