EPL

Kante forced out of France team at last minute

By Sports Desk October 11, 2019

N'Golo Kante was withdrawn from the France team to play Iceland because of injury prior to kick-off in Reykjavik.

The Chelsea midfielder had been named in the starting XI and was all set to play in the Euro 2020 qualifying match before reportedly suffering a muscle strain.

It meant Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko came into Didier Deschamps' line-up for the Group H fixture.

Deschamps had earlier surprised some observers by choosing Lucas Digne at left-back, when Lucas Hernandez had been tipped to recover from a knee problem to start.

Olivier Giroud was the focus point in attack, supported by Antoine Griezmann, with Kylian Mbappe on the injured list along with midfield playmaker Paul Pogba and Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper and regular captain of Les Bleus.

Kante could also miss France’s qualifier against Turkey on Monday, and Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will hope the former Leicester man is fit for the Blues' next Premier League clash, their home game against Newcastle on Saturday, October 19.

The 28-year-old has started just three of Chelsea's opening eight league games after being troubled by an ankle injury in the early weeks of the season.

Related items

  • Cuba 0-4 United States: Morris, Sargent send Berhalter's men into semis Cuba 0-4 United States: Morris, Sargent send Berhalter's men into semis

    The United States moved into the CONCACAF Nations League semi-finals after a 4-0 win over Cuba on Tuesday.

    USA were ahead inside a minute in the Cayman Islands through Josh Sargent and never looked back, Jordan Morris adding a first-half brace.

    Morris continued his fine run of form for USA before Sargent sealed his side's victory during a quieter second half.

    The win ensured Gregg Berhalter's side of top spot in Group A of League A and a spot in the semi-finals on goal difference.

    USA opened the scoring inside 40 seconds through Sargent.

    Paul Arriola did the hard work down the right before crossing for Sargent, who scored from close range as he put Cuba goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez under pressure.

    USA dominated the first half and Weston McKennie had a goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Erick Rizo in the eighth minute.

    However, the visitors doubled their lead through Morris, who made no mistake in a one-on-one with Sanchez after a great flick-on header by McKennie.

    Morris struck again six minutes before half-time, although the forward seemed apologetic to Aaron Long.

    Long's ball from the left side of the area went over Sanchez and Morris tapped in on the goal-line to make it 3-0.

    After a quieter start to the second half, USA added to their lead through Sargent's second.

    Tyler Boyd flicked Reggie Cannon's back-post cross into the path of Sargent, who converted from inside the area in the 66th minute.

    USA cruised late on, easing to an important victory and seeing Cuba finish without a point in the group.

     

    What does it mean? USA put Canada hiccup aside

    A 2-0 loss to Canada in Toronto in October had Berhalter under enormous pressure at the helm, but USA have responded. Wins over Canada (4-1) and Cuba this international break – and a spot in the semi-finals – have surely been enough to ease the pressure on Berhalter.

    USA developing fast-start habit

    For the second game in a row, USA scored inside two minutes. They also netted three times in the opening nine minutes against Cuba in October and Berhalter will be hoping they can continue their fast starts going forward.

    Morris caps off stellar 2019

    Morris' brace meant he has scored in four of his past five appearances for USA. The Seattle Sounders forward has netted five of his 10 international goals since September in a fine run of form.

    What's next?

    Both countries have played their final games of the year, but USA can look forward to the Nations League semi-finals in June 2020.

  • Martinez: Belgium deserve to win Euro 2020... but it's not that simple Martinez: Belgium deserve to win Euro 2020... but it's not that simple

    Roberto Martinez believes Belgium deserve to win Euro 2020 but acknowledges that will count for little if they do not perform at the finals.

    Belgium completed their qualification campaign on Tuesday, thrashing Cyprus 6-1 to end with 10 wins from 10 in Group I, scoring 40 goals in the process.

    Martinez has already seen enough to suggest Belgium are worthy of a maiden major international title, yet he knows there is plenty of work to do.

    "Whether we can win the European Championship, that is something that we have in our hands," head coach Martinez said. "We need to get even better and then we see if we can play another great tournament.

    "We have set the standard at the World Cup [finishing third] and we are continuing to develop into a team with a great deal of togetherness. And the fans are also important.

    "We now have seven months to become as good as possible. This team deserves to win the European Championship but, in football, it's not that simple."

    Reflecting on qualifying, he added: "I think everyone just worked really well this year. The players know what to do and they do it with an incredible focus.

    "Scoring six times and then playing again in this way is very good."

    Kevin De Bruyne, who scored twice in a playmaking masterclass against Cyprus, added: "It's always beautiful. Nobody has given it to us.

    "Once you start the qualification, you have to go match by match and we did. It's very nice to finally get there [with 10 wins]."

  • O'Neill: Germany thrashing will not affect Euro play-off hopes O'Neill: Germany thrashing will not affect Euro play-off hopes

    Michael O'Neill insisted Northern Ireland's 6-1 thrashing by Germany on Tuesday will have "no bearing" on their Euro 2020 play-off.

    Northern Ireland conceded six times in a qualifying match for the first time since 1949 (when they were defeated 9-2 by England) in what was a sobering loss to Joachim Low's team.

    Serge Gnabry starred with a hat-trick for Germany, whose place at next year's showpiece tournament was already secured, with Leon Goretzka netting twice before Julian Brandt's injury-time goal.

    O'Neill's side, who finished third in Group C, now find themselves in a one-legged play-off semi-final away to Bosnia-Herzegovina in March, with the winner to face either the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia.

    "This game will have no bearing on the play-offs whatsoever," said O'Neill.

    "Ultimately we were punished by the quality of the opposition. We are asking League One players to come and play against Champions League players."

    It was the biggest competitive loss of his eight-year tenure for O'Neill, who will be in charge for the play-offs despite his appointment at Championship outfit Stoke City.

    "You never want to get beaten 6-1 and it was tough in the second half particularly," he added.

    O'Neill's team were defeated on both occasions by Bosnia-Herzegovina when the sides met in the Nations League last year, however the boss remains optimistic they can reach a second successive Euros.

    "When the Bosnia game comes around in March we have to aim to have our key players fit," he said.

    "We know what to expect in terms of the intimidation and it's a tight ground, but we will go into that game knowing that we can win."

    O'Neill described Gnabry as "un-defendable" and the Bayern Munich player, who now has 14 goals for club and country this season, admitted he is revelling in his role as a striker having previously played as a winger.

    "I have to try to give my best every game," said Gnabry, whose 13 goals in as many Germany games has only been bettered by the legendary Gerd Muller. 

    "I am playing as a striker here, which I have enjoyed a lot. Scoring goals came easy to me as a youth player and it continues to work out here for me as well."

    Low was pleased to see his team, who finished ahead of Netherlands as group winners and will now play their Euro 2020 group games in Munich, continue to press for more goals.

    He said: "We enjoyed it very much. We have played a very consequential game. Even when we were up by two or three goals, we continued attacking. We can be very pleased.

    "We did not get nervous after going behind, I have liked what I have seen very much. We were focused for the full 90 minutes and this makes me positive looking forward."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.