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Chelsea internationals: Hazard brace, Pulisic contained, Courtois schadenfreude

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Wednesday action from around the world

Photo by BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images

As somebody smarter than me likes to say, the entire purpose of sports is to have fun at someone else’s expense. And while I’m not sure I prescribe to that theory 100 per cent, Thibaut Courtois is slowly nudging me towards to it.

Here’s another solid 10 per cent.

Anyway, despite Courtois’ howler — yeah yeah, everyone makes mistakes, though he did spend a solid portion of his Chelsea working on his ball/foot skills! — Belgium took care of business again Russia, 3-1, in the opening game of their Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

No prizes for guessing who the star of the night was, as Captain Eden Hazard, starting alongside brother and left wing-back (!) Thorgan in a 3-4-3, grabbed a brace, including winning and converting a penalty (1-v-1 vs. Chelsea old boy Yuri Zhirkov)...

...and then pouncing on a poor touch GREAT ASSIST from Michy Batshuayi, who started and played the full 90 (as did Eden).

It’s just Hazard doing Hazard things, casual-like.

Young Youri Tielemans got Belgium’s first goal to open the scoring in the game, while former Chelsea transfer target and Euro 2018 breakout star Alex Golovin was sent off towards the end for a second yellow card after a reckless tackle.

Earlier in the day, Mateo Kovačić started but did not finish (surprise!) Croatia’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over Azerbaijan, while Andreas Christensen was also withdrawn after an hour in Denmark’s 2-2 friendly draw against Kosovo.

Last but not least, in late action over on other side of the Atlantic, Gregg Berhalter’s Christian Pulisic-led Team USA swung into friendly action against Ecuador, who decided to use their time unproductively and parked the bus for a solid 90 minutes. Pulisic, basically the lone creative spark on the team, was deployed as the No.10 and didn’t exactly terrify the defense, though the same could be said for the rest (all the possession, none of the threat, which sounds rather familiar). They wasted their best opportunity — the front four combining with some nice passing and Pulisic, a bit inadvertently, setting up the clear cut chance — before getting a lucky, deflected winner late on from Gyasi Zardes. Pulisic was withdrawn shortly after the hour-mark, not quite looking fully match fit either.

Not too promising, though it’s just international football.