One of themes of the international break has been Chelsea strikers finding the back of the net, and even though Romelu Lukaku was suspended for Belgium’s third game of said break, that pattern continued on the final day of matches — though not for Michy Batshuayi, who started in Lukaku’s stead, but was kept off the scoresheet in their 1-0 win over Belarus.
Timo Werner made it three in three, as the Chelsea No.11 found the back of the net again, this time against Iceland. Werner’s goal was the cherry on top of the icing of a 4-0 cakewalk for Germany, and it was even sweeter as it was set up by Kai Havertz, who came on a half-time after missing the last game through illness.
In classic Werner fashion, the woodwork almost kept out his shot (Havertz watched it closely over the line), while earlier, he also contrived to miss a bit of a sitter, but a goal’s a goal and he’s been scoring regularly for the past two weeks, so that’s certainly something to build on.
Earlier in the game, Antonio Rüdiger also managed to get on the scoresheet, heading in rather impressively from a Joshua Kimmich free kick to double Germany’s advantage halfway through the first-half. A bit of a collector’s item, this one: just his second career international goal, in 47 appearances.
It was also a fun day for Armando Broja again, who quickly added a second career international goal to his tally after scoring his first ever over the weekend. He also collected two assists in Albania’s easy 5-0 win over San Marino — the first was a nice layoff in midfield while the second one was a heads-up play to press and take advantage of a loose touch by the defender.
Elsewhere, Ethan Ampadu’s Wales were held 0-0 by Estonia, Jorginho captained still-unbeatable Italy to a big 5-0 win over Lithuania (Emerson did not play), and César Azpilicueta played the final half hour or so in Spain’s 2-0 win over Kosovo. Azpi has now played in seven straight matches for Spain; he had never done more than three in his career before.
Meanwhile, England gave up a late goal to draw 1-1 with Poland, with Mason Mount playing the full 90. In fact, every single England starter played the full 90 as Gareth Southgate chose to not make any substitutions on their way to giving up a stoppage time equalizer. Amusing incompetence on a most basic level.
Be interesting to hear Southgate's take on no subs, especially with Poland going for them last 10. Even if simply to disrupt Polish rhythm, subs might've helped. England still on course to qualify for World Cup. #POLENG— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) September 8, 2021
Lastly, on the other side of the Atlantic, the US Men’s National Team battled back from a 1-0 half-time deficit against Honduras to finally notch a win in World Cup qualifying. Christian Pulisic started and played a key role in setting up the US equalizer just minutes after the restart.
The Americans did not look back after that, and though the Chelsea man’s day would end around the hour-mark (
still a bit short of match fitness, evidently turns out it may have been a knee knock?), they would then find a winner through teenage sensation Ricardo Pepi in the 75th, and add two more late on to make it 4-1 on the night. Pepi, just 18, marked his national team debut with a goal and two assists. Not bad!
And now, back to proper football!
Just your standard abysmal and baffling 1st half turned into a W by an 18-year-old in his 1st #USMNT cap | Three things we learned as Ricardo Pepi played a role in four 2nd-half goals in a must-have win in Honduras (And uh oh, Pulisic limped off) https://t.co/Dg0sDgFlWi— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 9, 2021