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Omeruo wins game for Nigeria at ACN; Miazga, Pulisic keep USA rolling at Gold Cup

Wednesday’s international action from a Chelsea perspective

Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

With lighter than usual representation from Chelsea, we haven’t been paying too much attention to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, which kicked off all summerified last week in Egypt. But yesterday, Chelsea loanee Kenneth Omeruo — now the only Chelsea player left on the Nigeria squad after Ola Aina’s transfer to Torino — made sure that we did. (Mikel’s still there, too.)

In the 73rd minute of Nigeria’s Group B match against Guinea, the 25-year-old rose highest at the near post on a corner and flicked a header over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to score what would prove to be the only goal of the match. It was his first career international goal, to go along with an overall performance that earned him rave reviews.

Omeruo has played both of Nigeria’s games so far at the tournament as he closes in on 50 caps for the Super Eagles. Not bad for a player who’s yet to actually play for Chelsea since signing in 2012.

He spent last season on loan with Leganés in the Spanish top flight, and both he and the team have expressed their desire to continue that working relationship. At last check, Leganés made an opening bid in their attempts to negotiate a discount with Chelsea for the center back.

Over in America, it was another corner header that decided a match with Chelsea representation, as the US Men’s National Team got the job done against Panama in the final group game at the Gold Cup. Both nations had already qualified for the knockout round and thus both started with heavily rotated lineups.

For the US, who made eleven changes, this meant that Christian Pulisic was on the bench and Matt Miazga got to start instead. Like Omeruo, Miazga didn’t do much wrong throughout the game, and also played a part in the only goal of the game, in this case setting up a very nice overhead kick from Jozy Altidore to win it for the US. Miazga got on the end of Mihailovic’s corner, heading it back across and into the mixer, where the defense and the goalkeeper made a mess of it and Altidore was on hand to produce the stunning finish.

Christian Pulisic had been on the pitch for about 10 seconds at that point. Coincidence? Of course. Or was it his special aura? We’ll never know!

The US, who have yet to lose let alone concede a goal in three games, take on Curaçao in Sunday’s quarterfinal, continuing to prove that the Gold Cup only ever gets (mildly) interesting in the requisite USA vs. Mexico final.

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