A busy day of soccering action all around the globe yesterday, with the Women’s World Cup (Marta scored her 17th career goal at the World Cup! Sam “Future Marta” scored 4!) and the U21 Euros going on the Old World and the Copa América and the Gold Cup doing so in the New, but as far as Chelsea involvement, we were mostly concerned with just two games — especially as Willian did not play in Brazil’s 0-0 draw with Venezuela, which featured three (3!) goals ruled out for the Selecão. Three! (All correctly, I think, certainly the last two.)
ENGLAND U21 1-2 FRANCE U21
In a matchup of two of the favorites for the 2019 European Championships, everything was going well for England — except maybe the finishing in front of goal — and then suddenly everything was going terribly.
The turning point was obviously Hamza Choudhury’s red card just past the hour-mark, a decision that went to video review but had little room for interpretation. The Leicester City youngster flew in recklessly and with two-feet on Lille’s Jonathan Bamba, who had to be stretchered off and substituted, and was lucky to escape with all bones intact.
And while France missed the penalty (their second failure from the penalty spot in the game!), the tide had turned. Another Lille rising star, Jonathan Ikoné found the equalizer with a precise finish pulled to the near-post, stranding the goalkeeper, with just a minute left in normal time. Then further disaster struck England in the fifth minute of added-on time, again of their own making, as Aaron Wan-Bissaka roofed into the back of his own net a harmless backheeled attempt from France, kicking it practically out of the hands of his own goalkeeper with his wrong foot (shades of Gary Cahill’s own goal against Manchester City a few years ago, but much closer towards goal).
Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. England now have no more room for errors as they face Romania (Friday), then Croatia (Monday) in the rest of their group stage matches. Romania beat Croatia 4-1 to open play in Group C.
Three Chelsea players started for England, all in defense, all three solid even if Jake Clarke-Salter was called for a handball for the first penalty — it was clearly inadvertent and it was ball-to-hand, but apparently none of those old rules matter anymore. Moussa Dembélé’s take was saved by Dean Henderson however in a classic case of “ball don’t lie”. Clarke-Salter, who captained the side, was joined in central defense by Fikayo Tomori, with Jay Dasilva lining up on the left. Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham both made substitute appearances, of 20 and 15 minutes, respectively, but by that time England were on the back foot and just hoping to survive. Former Chelsea prospect Dominic Solanke got the start, somewhat surprisingly, and missed at least one glorious chance.
Oh, and Phil Foden scored a ridiculous individual goal.
USA 4-0 GUYANA
The US Men’s National Team put their hilarious warm-up calamities in the rear view mirror with a solid win over unfancied Guyana, who have the lowest FIFA ranking among the 16 participants — Martinique technically don’t have a FIFA ranking as they’re not FIFA members, but they’re probably better, too.
But, you can only beat what’s in front of you, as they say, so at least the USA took care of business just as they were expected to.
Christian Pulisic started in midfield-ish, rather than on the wing, and didn’t really (have to) do much else other than flash a neat little elastico early on. Matt Miazga was only on the bench with Walker Zimmerman preferred instead. Two-goal Tyler Boyd was probably the USA’s best player.