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England advance, Belgium collapse, Kepa keeps clean sheet for Spain

Round-up of Chelsea players in international action on Sunday

England v Croatia - UEFA Nations League A Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

They say 2-0 is the most dangerous lead, but usually they are proven wrong. (1-0 is the most dangerous lead.) Unfortunately for Belgium, Sunday proved an exception.

The Red Devils were looking to put the finishing touches on a perfect Nations League campaign, coming in with a perfect three wins from three, including a 2-1 win over Switzerland back in October — that was the only goal they had conceded in those three games as well. So when Belgium took an early two-goal lead thanks to a 15-minute brace from Thorgan Hazard, everything looked well on track. But then, someone flipped a switch, and the hosts stormed back. Switzerland had taken the lead by half-time, then added two more for good measure in the second half to consign Hazard & Co to a fairly historic-sounding 5-2 defeat. The Swiss thus win the group and advance to the Nations League title playoff, while Belgium finish second and Iceland get relegated to League B.

Other than Thorgan, no Belgian player escaped criticism after this abomination, although Eden certainly had a few efforts that on a less strange day would’ve found the back of the net.

Speaking of comebacks, England produced a rousing one as well in the final fifteen minutes against Croatia yesterday at Wembley, as goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane ensured that they finish top of the group ahead of Spain and thus join Portugal and Switzerland in the final four of the Nations League — the last participant will be either France or Netherlands, depending on how the latter do against Germany today (Monday).

Ross Barkley started for England once again before making way for Dele Alli not long after almost-Chelsea player Andrej Kramaric opened the scoring. Southgate rolled the dice with Sancho and Lingard ten minutes later, and the comeback was on.

Loftus-Cheek did not feature, again, while Mateo Kovačić missed out due to a “little” leg muscle injury.

Could England win the first ever Nations League? They just might!

In non-Nations League action, Spain got back on the winning track with a straightforward 1-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, notable only for the fact that Kepa Arrizabalaga started in what many are hoping the first of many games instead of David De Gea — Pau Lopez came on for the final 15 minutes — and there were minutes for César Azpilicueta and Álvaro Morata as well. Morata missed an open goal (albeit on a quick rebound), which probably won’t help that narrative, but Azpilicueta playing is always a cause for celebration. Spain’s goal came from 21-year-old debutant Brais Méndez of Celta Vigo.

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