Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi is desperate to transfer his form for his country to his club after the international break.

Batshuayi scored both of Belgium's goals in a 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland on Wednesday – converting both of his attempts of the game.

The 27-year-old took his tally to 21 goals for Belgium, with five of those coming in his last three games for the Red Devils.

However, it has been a different story in the Premier League with Batshuayi, who is on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea, yet to find the net in five games this season.

"Why do I score so easily here? That's a question I ask myself," Batshuayi told RTL Sport.

"It's a bit annoying but I don't think about the past, I'm going forward. Personally, it feels good to score two goals.

"It shows that I have qualities, I have to try to perform well in the club as in the national team."

Belgium's win was a fortunate one, as they managed a total of seven shots in total compared to Switzerland's 12.

The Swiss also enjoyed more possession – 51.5 per cent to 48.5 per cent – and completed more passes (632 to 594) as well as winning more duels (40 to 38)

Batshuayi felt it was a challenging game for Roberto Martinez's side, with many of their stellar names rested ahead of their Nations League clash with England on Sunday.

"It was difficult, it's a team that is very physical. We knew that from last year when they eliminated us in the Nations League," added Batshuayi.

"It's a good test match for newcomers and for me. The thing to remember is that there were a lot of new players.

"They listened very well to the coach's instructions and it really feels good to win this kind of victory."

Michy Batshuayi scored twice for Belgium as the number one FIFA-ranked team in the world laboured to a 2-1 win over Switzerland in a low-key international friendly.

Admir Mehmedi gave the Swiss the lead early on at the Den Dreef Stadion in Leuven with a crisp low finish past Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Batshuayi equalised for Belgium early in the second half with an angled finish after an intelligent pass from Youri Tielemans.

The 27-year-old striker then took his tally to 21 goals for Belgium, scoring his second of the game with a shot on the turn from close range to seal victory with 20 minutes left.

Belgium's 12-game winning streak came to an end as Franck Kessie's late penalty secured a 1-1 draw for Ivory Coast at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Thursday.

Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez shuffled his pack ahead of the Nations League double header against England and Iceland, opting not to start the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

The much-changed starting XI struggled against Patrice Beaumelle's side in the first half but they forged ahead early in the second courtesy of Michy Batshuayi's 19th international goal.

They were denied yet another win three minutes from time, though, with Kessie clipping home from 12 yards after Wilfried Zaha had been brought down inside the area.

Belgium were more dangerous in the opening exchanges, with Brighton and Hove Albion forward Leandro Trossard looking particularly sharp on his first international start.

Chances were few and far between during a tepid opening 45 minutes, with Batshuayi's blocked shot from Trossard's pullback the closest either side came to taking the lead.

The on-loan Crystal Palace striker was not to be denied eight minutes after the restart, slotting home from close range after his initial effort from Alexis Saelemaekers' cross had been kept out by Sylvain Gbohouo.

Substitute goalkeeper Hendrik van Crombrugge was called into action soon after, though, keeping out Nicolas Pepe's close-range effort from Zaha's cross.

Zaha was instrumental to his side's late equaliser, teasing a foul out of substitute Sebastiaan Bornauw inside the area to give Kessie the opportunity to nonchalantly lift the ball into Van Crombrugge's top-right corner and ensure the game ended all square.

What does it mean? Understudies' lack of experience proves costly

Belgium's second-string had acquitted themselves admirably for 87 minutes and looked set to extend their winning streak to a lucky 13. Bornauw - just 10 minutes into his international debut - endured a moment to forget, though. Watching from the sidelines, the Red Devils' elder statesmen will have shaken their heads disapprovingly.

Batshuayi leads from the front

Batshuayi certainly lived up to his status as one of the starting XI's most experienced players. The 27-year-old was a handful for Ivory Coast's defence throughout and had five shots on goal, four more than any other Belgium player.

Doku fails to make his mark

On just his second start for the national team, Jeremy Doku struggled to make an impact. The 18-year-old failed to have a shot and completed just 18 passes before he was hauled off for Divock Origi with more than 20 minutes remaining.

What's next?

Belgium take on England at Wembley on Sunday before travelling to Iceland three days later, while Ivory Coast face another friendly clash with Japan in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Michy Batshuayi feels like he is returning "home" after re-joining Crystal Palace on loan from Chelsea for a second time.

The Belgium international agreed a 12-month contract extension with Chelsea on Thursday, meaning he is under contract until 2022, before finalising a season-long switch to Selhurst Park.

Batshuayi scored six goals in 13 appearances for Roy Hodgson's side during his previous spell in south London in the second half of the 2018-19 campaign.

And the 26-year-old, who has struggled to hold down a place in Chelsea's first team since joining in 2016, is hoping to have a similar impact at Palace this coming season.

"I had a lot of other clubs [interested] but my head is here, so everything is right and happy now," he told Palace's official website. 

"I'm happy, the coach is happy, the team-mates are happy. So, let's get to work.

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne has joined up with Belgium's squad ahead of their Nations League clash with Iceland on Tuesday.

De Bruyne was absent from as the Red Devils started their Nations League Group A2 campaign with a 2-0 win over Denmark.

The 29-year-old had been granted leave to be with his wife Michele for the birth of their third child.

However, coach Roberto Martinez will have the playmaker available when Belgium face Iceland in Brussels.

Michy Batshuayi, meanwhile, has also joined the group after the Chelsea forward isolated for 14 days due to the possibility that he may have contracted coronavirus.

One player Belgium will be without on Tuesday is Yannick Carrasco, who has left the squad.

Anderlecht youngsters Jeremy Doku and Landry Dimata have been handed their maiden senior call-ups for Belgium, although there was no place for Michy Batshuayi or Christian Benteke in Robert Martinez's squad for next month's Nations League matches against Denmark and Iceland.

Winger Doku, 18, has established himself as a first-team fixture at Anderlecht over the past year, where Dimata, 22, has returned after missing the entirety of last season with knee damage by scoring two in the opening three Pro League games of 2020-21.

"Doku is an exceptional talent," Martinez said. "He brings something very important in modern football and that is his qualities in one-on-one situations.

"Dimata has a special profile. A number nine is a very important profile for us.

"Just that he has already played three matches can be important for us. We have always rated him highly and think this is a good time to include him in the group. "

Benteke has been a mainstay in Martinez's squads up until this point despite a dwindling goals return – he managed six over the course of the previous three Premier League seasons at Crystal Palace – while Batshuayi has struggled for opportunities at Chelsea, where the arrival of Timo Werner does little for his prospects.

"On Batshuayi and Benteke we have had direct contact with their clubs and it turned out that it was better that they did not travel and did not leave the training camp," Martinez said. 

"It is not a football decision. Benteke is in our plans. Batshuayi had a difficult season, but has a lot of credit because of what he did before for the national team. "

Explaining his selections, Martinez suggested players competing in Belgium's domestic competition, such as three-times capped Anderlecht midfielder Yari Verschaeren, had been granted an advantage due to their season already being up and running.

"September will be a strange period," he said. "Some players are coming out of a rest period, so it is a good time to use players who have already gained rhythm.

"Especially for players with a great future. It will be a good experience for players like Doku and Verschaeren."

Thomas Vermaelen was not named in the 29-man group, but Martinez explained the Vissel Kobe defender would be added if his travel from Japan could be cleared.

Belgium travel to face Denmark on September 5 before hosting Iceland three days later in Group A2, which also features England.

Belgium squad:

Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Hendrik van Crombrugge (Anderlecht); Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Elias Cobbaut (Anderlecht), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Timothy Castagne (Atalanta), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund); Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Nacer Chadli (Monaco), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Dennis Praet (Leicester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht); Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Jeremy Doku (Anderlecht), Landry Dimata (Anderlecht), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Lionel Messi reportedly has Barcelona in "suspense" amid talk over his future.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants amid chaos at the club following their capitulation in the Champions League.

Contracted until 2021, Messi's future has become a major talking point.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN 'SUSPENSE' OVER MESSI FUTURE

Barcelona are in suspense amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday he expected Messi to lead the club into the future under Ronald Koeman.

TuttoMercatoWeb reports only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Inter would be able to afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Koeman wants a two-year deal at the club and Henrik Larsson as one of his assistants at Camp Nou.

- Chelsea continue to chase Kai Havertz. Sport Bild claims negotiations between the Premier League club and Bayer Leverkusen started last week and Havertz will become the most expensive German player of all-time.

- Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Napoli? The Mirror reports City are being invited to make a £60million (€66.6m) move for the defender, who Napoli want to replace with Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes. ESPN says Arsenal are hopeful of sealing a deal for Gabriel for around £22m (€24.4m).

- Leeds United could be preparing to strengthen on their return to the Premier League. The Evening Standard reports Leeds are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

- Benfica could be nearing two big signings. Gianluca Di Marzio says the Portuguese giants want Inter midfielder Joao Mario, while Record reports Benfica are close to completing a deal for former Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.

- Having signed Blaise Matuidi, Inter Miami may add some firepower. DIRECTV Peru says the MLS club have started talks to sign former PSV and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfan.

Manchester City or Manchester United?

Harry Kane could reportedly leave Jose Mourinho's Tottenham at the end of the season.

And he could be playing for either Pep Guardiola or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer next term.

 

TOP STORY – CITY INTERESTED IN KANE

Manchester City want to rival Manchester United for the signature of Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to 90min.

Kane is reportedly considering his future at Tottenham and Premier League giants United have already been linked to the England striker.

Another Manchester club, City, are also interested in the 26-year-old front man.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Times says all football games in England will be played behind closed doors under government plans to combat coronavirus. The report claims the current season will not be postponed, instead matches in the Premier League and lower divisions are to be staged without fans.

City are prepared to swap players with Inter. Calciomercato reports City are determined to sign Nerazzurri centre-back Milan Skriniar and are prepared to offer full-back Joao Cancelo, who previously played for Inter on loan.

Liverpool are favourites to sign Timo Werner, however, Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona could turn to the RB Leipzig striker if they miss out on Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

Napoli would not reject bids for star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Koulibaly has been linked to the likes of United, City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail says Chelsea and Tottenham are eyeing Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Crystal Palace are targeting Chelsea outcast Michy Batshuayi, according to The Sun. Batshuayi spent the second half of last season on loan at fellow London club Palace.

Harry Maguire has explained he did not intend to kick Michy Batshuayi after an incident in the first half of Manchester United's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Maguire scored United's second goal at Stamford Bridge on Monday, heading home from Bruno Fernandes' corner as the visitors moved to within three points of Frank Lampard's side.

However, Chelsea were angered midway through the first half when Maguire avoided any punishment after appearing to kick out at Batshuayi as both tumbled over the sideline.

There was a VAR check for violent conduct, but Maguire was not penalised and the England international claimed he had not intended to hurt the Chelsea forward.

"I can see why [it could be seen as a kick]. I knew I caught him," Maguire told Sky Sports.

"I thought he was going to fall on me, my natural reaction was to straighten a leg, so if he was to fall on me, it was to hold him up. It probably looks worse than it was.

"It wasn't a kick out, there was no intent, it was just my natural reaction to straighten my leg and if he was going to fall on me, to hold him up. I did catch him, I knew at the time but I think it's the right decision.

"I didn't have an intent to hurt him or kick him. It was just a natural reaction to straighten my leg, it wasn't a kick. I've got studs on my boot, makes it a little bit worse. I apologised to him but it was nice the referee has seen sense."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was also adamant his captain was innocent.

"You want the right decision to be made and you're happy that they are made and they weren't made without that help and it's been shown a few times that we needed that help," Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked of the major officiating calls, with VAR also ruling out two Chelsea goals.

"I wouldn't think [it was a red card]. I think he's just protecting himself there, looks like he's getting a lad over him and he's put his leg where it does hurt."

United are up to seventh, with the race for Champions League qualification becoming increasingly congested, and Maguire stressed the importance of carrying on their form.

"This season we've been far too inconsistent," he said. "We won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool.

"But we've let ourselves down against the teams when the pressure is on to break them down. Next Sunday we've got Watford at home, we're not getting carried away because it's a massive game and we need to get the three points."

Eric Bailly was set to make his first start of the season after being named in Manchester United's line-up to face Chelsea, who were without Tammy Abraham.

Bailly has been gradually making his way back from a knee injury sustained in pre-season and was included in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's XI for Monday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivory Coast defender replaced the unwell Victor Lindelof for his first appearance of the season across all competitions and his first in the top flight since April 2019.

Bailly was named alongside Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw in what appeared to be a back three for United, with Daniel James partnering Anthony Martial up front and Odion Ighalo on the bench.

United, who beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season, have also been boosted by Abraham's absence for the home side, with the Blues' leading scorer missing out due to an injury suffered in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal in January.

Abraham played with a painkilling injection in Chelsea's draw with Leicester City prior to the mid-season break but did not make the cut this time and Michy Batshuayi came in for his first league start of 2019-20.

Frank Lampard also kept faith with Willy Caballero in goal as Kepa Arrizabalaga once again started on the bench, while Mateo Kovacic and Willian replaced Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi respectively.

Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori sent Chelsea through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 2-1 win at Hull City.

An early opener from striker Batshuayi calmed any Chelsea nerves, before Tomori's header stretched their lead in the second half. 

Hull's reply was a fortunate one, Kamil Grosicki's free-kick taking a giant deflection off Mateo Kovacic.

The hosts began to believe they could force a replay, but Chelsea withstood the late scare to clinch a place in the last 16 of the competition.

Chelsea swept ahead in the sixth minute from their first serious attack, with the ball falling to Batshuayi close to the penalty spot. The Belgian striker clattered his shot and a deflection off Ryan Tafazolli carried it beyond George Long in the Hull goal.

That made it look bleak for the hosts, given they had never beaten Chelsea in 10 previous FA Cup matches.

Despite showing eight changes from the side that drew with Arsenal on Tuesday, Chelsea's starting XI was strong and signalled boss Frank Lampard's eagerness to win the tie at the first attempt.

Lampard, a four-time FA Cup winner in his playing days, would have been encouraged by Chelsea's forward momentum as Cesar Azpilicueta had a shot blocked before Batshuayi saw an effort deflect wide.

The visitors should have doubled their lead when Ross Barkley made a bright run through the heart of the Hull defence, but the England midfielder's strike was unconvincing and Long blocked, with the Hull goalkeeper later also twice denying Mason Mount and parrying an Azpilicueta shot.

Lampard led Derby County to the fifth round last season before Brighton and Hove Albion ended their campaign, but with Chelsea the trophy is always a target.

The FA Cup represents their best chance of silverware this season, given the Premier League is a Liverpool procession, their EFL Cup campaign is over, and Bayern Munich await the Blues in the Champions League's first knockout round.

Jarrod Bowen has been a goalscoring phenomenon in the second tier of English football and gave a glimpse of his quality just before the hour with a darting run from midfield and a shot that cleared the Chelsea bar by barely a foot.

Hull's hopes were fading when Tomori headed a wonderfully clipped Barkley free-kick inside the left post in the 64th minute for Chelsea's second.

Pedro drilled narrowly wide before chipping into the side-netting, before Hull's reply came with 12 minutes remaining when substitute Grosicki's free-kick took its wild deflection off Kovacic and flew inside the left post.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has challenged Michy Batshuayi to step up and show some consistency with Tammy Abraham seemingly facing a spell on the sidelines.

Abraham collided with the pitchside advertising hoardings late on in Chelsea's 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Tuesday and was later seen limping as he left Stamford Bridge.

Lampard revealed on Friday that the England international did not suffer serious ankle damage in the incident, but the full extent of the injury is still unknown.

Chelsea will be without their 15-goal top-scorer for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round trip to Hull City, meaning just a fourth start of the season in all competitions for Batshuayi.

And the 26-year-old has been urged by his manager to make the most of his rare opportunity to shine.

"He starts [on Saturday], yes, this is a chance for him," Lampard told reporters.

"Part of that has been how Tammy's been - we have seen his breakthrough and the consistency of his game.

"But yes, this is a chance for him and clearly he certainly has got to take that chance in terms of his all-round game and goals and his overall performance."

Batshuayi has scored three goals in his three previous cup starts this term and has five goals in 21 appearances overall.

Asked what he hopes to see from the Belgium striker against Hull, Lampard added: "I don't want to sit here and dissect Michy's game, but I just want to see a performance and every time he gets to be on the pitch.

"There have been times this season where he has come on and he has made a difference, and that needs to be consistent.

"To be fair to Michy - his approach and work ethic, I cannot complain about it at all in training.

"I'm sure he will say he hasn't had that many opportunities that would be normal for a player that's played as much as him this season.

"But the reality of it is, when you get those opportunities, whether it's ten minutes coming on to try and affect a game, or starts in whatever game they are, you need to try and absolutely make an impact.

"At times he's made an impact. At other times not so much. The brutal reality is, I suppose Tammy's had a really good season and his [Batshuayi's] moments have probably not been as much as he would want.

"But he does have to try and make the impact in every little moment and chance he gets."

Frank Lampard is confident Chelsea's back-up strikers can step up in the absence of the injured Tammy Abraham. 

Abraham hobbled off in the first half of Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw with Valencia after a collision left him clutching his left side, before he was then taken away on a stretcher.

The England international attempted to play down the extent of his injury immediately after the match, but it has been confirmed he will play no part in Saturday's visit of West Ham.

Providing an update at his pre-match news conference on Friday, head coach Lampard said: "He's got some pain, so won't be involved tomorrow and then we'll see by Monday."

Abraham has scored 10 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, compared to a combined one goal in 12 appearances for Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud - although they only have one top-flight start between them.

However, Lampard is backing the duo to show what they can do while Abraham is sidelined.

"It's a squad game over the course of the season," he said. "The lads have been training well no matter how many minutes they're getting. 

"Every day is a work day so when opportunities come they're ready, so I've got all confidence in them."

Pushed on whether Batshuayi will start against out-of-form West Ham, Lampard added: "We'll see.

"It's not easy when you are not playing as many minutes as you want. I have seen a great work ethic and he has quality. It is great to see."

Chelsea have conceded 32 goals in 21 matches this season, with Valencia the latest side to take advantage of the Blues' slack defending in the midweek draw at the Mestalla.

Lampard has reiterated he has no concerns about his backline, however, especially with Antonio Rudiger closing in on a return to action.

"Antonio is getting closer. He is working very hard and it's like a mini pre-season for him now," Lampard said.

"I didn't like our defending in the final 20 minutes against Valencia, but overall I'm not concerned about the defence. We have conceded more than we would have liked.

"In the Premier League you are going to concede goals. There is always room for improvement. We are okay, but we want more."

Frank Lampard is hopeful the hip injury suffered by Tammy Abraham in Chelsea's Champions League draw with Valencia is not as serious as initially feared.

The England international, who has scored 10 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, limped off the field at the end of the first half and appeared in significant discomfort.

He was eventually helped onto a stretcher and missed the remainder of a 2-2 draw that leaves Group H wide open.

It was suggested to Lampard that Abraham had been taken to hospital, but the Chelsea manager refuted that.

"I'm not sure if that's true, but he's in the dressing room now," he said.

"The word at half-time was it looked quite severe, a bang on the hip. Then the word after the game was it might not be as severe as we first thought.

"That's as much details as I have.”

Speaking about the game, which saw the visitors denied by Daniel Wass' late effort after battling back from a goal down, Lampard admitted the open nature of the contest in Spain was not what he had planned for.

"We both had incredible chances, we had one in the first few minutes," said Lampard. 

"We had numerous ones in the first half, so did they. Maybe their chances were more clear-cut than ours. I wouldn't say I feel fortunate.

"Did I love the match? No I didn't love it, because it hasn't been many times this season where I have had to say 'we kind of got away with that'. Today was one of those because they missed big opportunities.

"Perhaps we deserved the slices of luck that we got, but I won't take away from the fact that we have to take some of our opportunities. It could have been 5-5, 6-6 one of those games."

Daniel Wass scored a fortuitous and crucial late equaliser for Valencia to secure a 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea on Wednesday in a thrilling contest that left Champions League Group H wide open.

Frank Lampard's men had looked on course to leave Mestalla with the victory that would have clinched their spot in the knockout phase after Christian Pulisic's go-ahead strike was added to by a Kepa Arrizabalaga penalty save, but Wass' effort led to a share of the spoils.

A dramatic, end-to-end first half saw both sides threaten regularly and, despite some wretched finishing, two goals in as many minutes from Carlos Soler and Mateo Kovacic – his first for Chelsea – meant the score was level at the interval.

Everything looked to be going Chelsea's way after Pulisic struck and Kepa parried Dani Parejo's penalty, but Wass' right-wing cross rather fortunately went straight in with eight minutes left to rescue Valencia, who would have won it but for an inexcusable stoppage-time miss by Rodrigo. 

 

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