Here are the major Talking Points from the recently concluded International Break:
Lukaku Breaks Belgium Goal Record
Romelu Lukaku, who scored a brace in the 3-3 draw with Mexico on Friday, made history on Tuesday, as his winner in the 1-0 victory over Japan made him Belgium’s all-time top scorer. His header, which was his 31st goal, took him ahead of Paul van Himst and Bernard Voorhoof’s tallies of 30 goals each. And with the striker still only 24 years old, he will hopefully end up with a way higher tally for his national side.
Martial’s Assist in Draw
Anthony Martial, who played for a little over a quarter of an hour in the 2-0 win over Wales, started in the 2-2 draw against Germany on Tuesday. He assisted Alexandre Lacazette’s opener after a mazy run, but unfortunately saw Joachim Low’s men end up with equal goals as the Arsenal striker’s brace was cancelled out by goals from Timo Werner and Lars Stindl’s last gasp effort.
Micki’s return to form
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored for his third international game in a row as the attacker looks to leave his poor form in recent weeks behind. He scored a goal and surprisingly missed a penalty in a convincing 4-1 victory over Belarus on Thursday, and followed up with another goal from the spot in the 3-2 win over Cyprus on Monday. He’s really turned his side’s fortune around, after taking the blame of Armenia’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. And with the international break ending, there couldn’t have been a better timing for this confidence booster.
Darmian’s Italy Dumped out by Lindelof’s Sweden
Matteo Darmian’s Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958, as Victor Lindelof’s Sweden triumphed 1-0 over two qualifier legs. The Scandinavians won 1-0 in Stockholm in the first leg, and held on for a goalless draw at the San Siro in Milan on Monday night to shock the winners of the 2006 edition.
Dutch Winning when it’s too late
Netherlands, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, recorded two successive friendly victories this week. Former Red Memphis Depay scored the sole goal in the 1-0 win over Scotland, as Daley Blind played the whole game while Timothy Fosu-Mensah, out on loan with Crystal Palace, featured for 72 minutes. They then recorded a 3-0 victory over Romania in Dick Advocaat’s final game as the National team’s head coach.
Jones suffers thigh injury
Phil Jones, one of United’s first starters this season, suffered a setback as he came off in the 25th minute against Germany, and as a result, he was ruled out of the Brazil game and returned to his club for treatment. While the intensity of his injury is unclear, it is rumoured that he could be ready for the weekend game against Newcastle United.
Young’s First game in 4 years
Ashley Young, who was an unused substitute against Germany, came on for the last ten minutes in the goalless draw against Brazil, which meant that he donned the England shirt for the first time since 2013. Well, with the kind of form he’s in at club level, it wasn’t surprising to see him return to the national fold even at the age of 32.