Not sure what’s in these international waters, but suddenly Romelu Lukaku can’t stop scoring ... and neither can Mateo Kovačić! Now that is about as unlikely as the current final four in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament!
ESPN says 37 out of their 20 million brackets picked the Final Four correctly.— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) March 27, 2023
March Madness is the best
Kova scored not once but twice for Croatia in their 2-0 win over Turkey on Tuesday, which follow his goal for Chelsea against Leicester City a couple weeks ago. Kova now has 5 international goals in nearly 100 appearances and 25 goals at club level in nearly 500 appearances (though just 9 in the last 300 or so). Watch out Frank Lampard, he’s coming for your record!
Unlike his Chelsea goals, which tend to be volleys or other Goal of the Month-worthy efforts, there was nothing too special about either of these two goals: the first a result of a classic third-man run from midfield and the second a poacher’s effort on a rebound. See, just like Super Frank used to do!
Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku scored for the second successive game, though this time just once, which was two fewer than he managed against Sweden the other day. Slacker!
Lukaku’s goal gave Belgium an early 2-0 lead inside of ten minutes, though Germany would make a game of it after, going on to lose the friendly only by a single goal, 3-2. Kai Havertz did not play in this one after withdrawing through illness.
One other note from this game worth mentioning is that Thibaut Courtois missed out after returning to Real Madrid with a potential injury concern of his own. Real Madrid are now sweating over an adductor strain that could rule him out of our matchup in the Champions League quarterfinals in a few weeks. Koen Casteels got the start for Belgium instead, while T-Bo’s backup at Real is 24-year-old Andriy Lunin, who’s first-choice for the Ukraine national football team.
Elsewhere, Kalidou Koulibaly captained Senegal to another win and a clean sheet, 1-0 away to Mozambique in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, while Ethan Ampadu helped Wales to the same result against Latvia in Euro 2024 qualifying.
In fact, Senegal’s win now already guarantees them a place at the next Afcon tournament, starting January 2024.
There was a clean sheet for Denis Zakaria and Switzerland as well (3-0 win over Israel), and a clean sheet but no win for Hakim Ziyech and Morocco, who were held to a scoreless friendly-ish draw against Peru. Both sides finished the game with 10 players.
Enzo Fernández and Argentina also kept a clean sheet in a massively mismatched friendly against Curacao. Messi grabbed himself a hat-trick and set up Enzo for one of the seven goals that Argentina collected on the night. Sweet strike indeed from the kid.
ENZO FERNÁNDEZ WHAT A GOAL. ASSISTED BY MESSI. pic.twitter.com/uf7nqhR4xX— MC (@CrewsMat10) March 29, 2023
And there was a clean sheet in the Scotland vs. Spain game as well, but not for the team you might think with Kepa on the losing end against Chelsea legend Steve Clarke’s men (including unused substitute Billy Gilmour). A famous win for The Tartan Army then, with noted goal dynamo Scott McTominay scoring twice against our first-choice goalkeeper. Scotland are the early leaders in Group A, which also includes Spain, Norway, Georgia, and Cyprus. The top two qualify for the Euros.