Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier scored as Belgium won 2-0 in Kazakhstan to continue their perfect record in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Belgium became the first team to qualify with a 9-0 defeat of San Marino this week while Kazakhstan's hopes of reaching the finals were ended by Cyprus.

Batshuayi put Roberto Martinez's men in front at Astana Arena on Sunday and Meunier doubled their lead from a superb Eden Hazard pass.

The victory made it eight wins from eight in Group I for Belgium.

Kazakhstan made a breezy start but fell behind to Batshuayi's goal in the 21st minute.

Dries Mertens poked the ball through to Dennis Praet on the right and the full debutant whipped in a low cross that an unmarked Batshuayi stole in at the back post to convert.

Belgium ensured victory with a second strike in the 53rd minute. Hazard's stunning ball over the Kazakhstan back line was placed perfectly into Meunier's path with the right-back driving a fine finish past Dmytro Nepogodov.

Batshuayi should have grabbed a second but could not stretch enough to turn in Mertens' left-wing cross.

Yan Vorogovskiy lashed a rare Kazakhstan opening over the crossbar and Thibaut Courtois saved a late Bauyrzhan Islamkhan free-kick to extend Belgium's run of clean sheets to seven qualifiers.


What does it mean? Belgium contenders for Euro 2020 crown

Belgium reached the semi-finals at last year's World Cup - knocking out Brazil but losing to eventual winners France - and as FIFA's top-ranked team they will be among the favourites at Euro 2020. Martinez has quality throughout his team, with a genuine global star in Hazard, although there is perhaps a lack of depth in some key areas.


Hazard spark lights up contest

With little at stake it was an understandably low-tempo affair, but Hazard provided a moment of magic from which the game will be remembered. The Real Madrid star has not had the easiest start to life at his new club, but showed his quality by setting up Meunier in wonderful fashion.


Mertens flatters to deceive again

Having been peripheral in the rout of San Marino last time out, Mertens was no more impressive against more resilient opposition. He had four shots, more than anyone on the pitch, but none of them were on target to test Nepogodov.


What's next?

Euro 2020's qualifying group stage ends next month. Belgium are away to Russia then at home to Cyprus. Kazakhstan, who could still finish third, end their campaign with a double-header on the road against San Marino and Scotland, the two teams below them in the group.

Reece James starred on his debut and Callum Hudson-Odoi marked his return with a goal as Frank Lampard picked up a first home win as Chelsea boss with a resounding 7-1 EFL Cup victory against Grimsby Town on Wednesday.

The Blues had lost back-to-back matches at Stamford Bridge and were winless there in four under Lampard, but they made light work of their League Two visitors, scoring seven goals in the competition for the first time since 1960-61.

James was one of three full debutants to start for Chelsea and played a part in three of his side's goals, including a strike of his own inside the final 10 minutes.

Matt Green's goal had given Grimsby some hope following quick-fire strikes from Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi.

But Pedro scored from the spot before half-time and further goals followed from Kurt Zouma, James, Batshuayi and the returning Hudson-Odoi in the second half as Chelsea returned to winning ways.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez acknowledged his side produced an unacceptable display against San Marino despite a 4-0 victory.

Martinez’s side are top of Euro 2020 Group I after they made it five victories from as many qualification matches.

However, Belgium’s performance against a spirited San Marino side, especially in a first half, was sluggish.

San Marino are bottom of the FIFA world rankings and have not earned a qualification point since November 2014 while Belgium are top of the rankings and reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

The scoreline was goalless for the first 43 minutes until Belgium opened the scoring for the penalty spot through Michy Batshuayi.

Second-half goals from Dries Mertens, Nacer Chadli and a second from Batshuayi sealed the result but Martinez was far from satisfied.

"I'm not happy with the way we played," said Martinez, whose acknowledged his side must improve when they play Scotland at Hampden Park on Monday.

"It wasn't good enough or up to our standard. It's true in the first half we didn't look like a team with direction.

"There was a lot of misunderstanding about what we asked for. It is true that it was not the usual team, but it's crazy as we had to work to make the difference and keep the clean sheet. 

"We wasted 45 minutes. It's not what we are. We played as a group of individuals in the first half and as a team second half.

"It is not acceptable to see this kind of game. I take responsibility for that. I'm still happy to pocket the three points."

San Marino frustrated Belgium for long periods although Batshuayi felt the margin of victory could have been greater had the he been sharper.

Batshuayi has played just seven minutes for Chelsea this season when he came on as a late substitute in their 2-2 draw with Sheffield United.

"The most important thing is that we won," said the 25-year-old striker.

"San Marino was a tough opponent. We played a bad first half. On a good day I could have scored four or five goals, but I have not played for a while."

Michy Batshuayi scored twice as Belgium claimed a low-key 4-0 victory over San Marino to strengthen their position at the top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group I.

Chelsea striker Batshuayi opened the scoring from the penalty spot just before half-time in what proved the only goal of the opening period at San Marino Stadium.

Dries Mertens added a second shortly following his introduction after the break before fellow substitute Nacer Chadli notched Belgium's third.

Batshuayi then added a fourth late on with a header to complete the routine three points.

Belgium have won all five of their Euro 2020 qualifying matches but were well below their best in Serravalle.

Maybe, just maybe, the Neymar transfer saga is coming to an end.

The Brazilian's future has dominated the headlines over recent weeks as Barcelona try to re-sign the wantaway Paris Saint-Germain superstar.

With the September 2 deadline looming, Barca may have struck a deal…

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND PSG REACH NEYMAR AGREEMENT

According to BBC Sport, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have agreed terms on the value of Neymar.

The two clubs have reportedly settled on a figure of €200million for a player who left Camp Nou in a world-record €222m deal in 2017.

The LaLiga champions are also willing to offer Jean-Clair Todibo, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele on a season-long loan, though all three players still have to agree terms.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Gianluca di Marzio, Atletico Madrid have made an enquiry for Inter outcast Mauro Icardi. However, the race seems to be between Napoli and Monaco, who are both reportedly prepared to pay €65million for the former Inter captain.

- A swap deal involving Keylor Navas and Alphonse Areola is close to completion. RMC says Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Areola has reached an agreement with Real Madrid. Marca, meanwhile, says Navas will sign a three-year deal with PSG.

Parma are confident of signing Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian, says Alfredo Pedulla. Former Torino defender Darmian has been virtually non-existent at Old Trafford in recent months.

- Radio Marte reporter Dario Sarnataro claims Chelsea have offered Michy Batshuayi to Napoli. The 25-year-old striker has recently spent time on loan at Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Crystal Palace.

- Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is on the verge of moving to Roma on loan, according to widespread reports in Italy and England.

- Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny is set to join Besiktas on a season-long loan, says Goal.com. The Egypt international only made 17 appearances last season. Il Messaggero, meanwhile, claims the Gunners and Tottenham are both monitoring Roma star Cengiz Under.

Frank Lampard restored Tammy Abraham to the point of Chelsea's attack and lost N'Golo Kante to injury for the clash with Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Abraham was replaced by Olivier Giroud for last weekend's 1-1 draw against Leicester City but the 21-year-old was given another vote of confidence after his penalty miss in the UEFA Super Cup loss to Liverpool.

Giroud was joined on the bench by Michy Batshuayi, included in the matchday squad for the first time in the Premier League this season after being urged by Lampard to improve his fitness.

Key midfielder Kante missed the match because of an ankle sprain in a blow to Lampard's bid for a first victory as Blues boss.

Mateo Kovacic takes the World Cup winner's place in midfield as Chelsea selected their youngest starting XI for a Premier League match since November 2012 at an average age of 25 years and 54 days.

Norwich, convincing 3-1 winners over Newcastle United last time out, were unchanged.

Frank Lampard is confident Chelsea's forwards will start to come good in the Premier League after Michy Batshuayi made a goalscoring return to action on Monday.

The Belgium striker scored twice against Liverpool for the Chelsea Under-23 side in a match in which Antonio Rudiger managed 90 minutes for the first time since suffering a knee injury in April.

Batshuayi's goals were a boost to head coach Lampard, who has yet to see any of his recognised strikers score in a Premier League fixture since he took charge before the start of the season.

Lampard now hopes to see Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham get off the mark as soon as possible as his side prepare to face Norwich City on Saturday.

"Michy got the fitness work he needed out of the game. He scored two good goals, two very good finishes. I thought he worked hard and that's exactly what the game was there to do for him," Lampard said.

"As I've said here and I've said on the training pitch, we need Michy, we need the competition up front with the three strikers we have. I used to love practicing my finishing in training, it's what I felt made me lucky at the weekend, and gave me an edge in front of goal.

"What I have got is great attitude in the three strikers particularly, but others in the squad also always want to stay out, want to work harder. The reality is that moments come when things don't quite go for you. [If] Tammy's goal goes in off the post against United, [it's a] different story for him, different story for the game.

"But you can't get too down about that. I don't think we need to go negative about it. It's about positivity, working hard and the belief that it will come, and I believe it will come. We're talking about quality players in terms of our attacking players, so it will come."

Chelsea lost 4-0 to Manchester United on the opening day and were held 1-1 by Leicester City at Stamford Bridge last time out, having failed to capitalise on encouraging spells in each of those matches.

Lampard says it would not be fair on Norwich to describe the meeting as Carrow Road as "must-win" for his side, but he is taking encouragement from the Blues' performances so far.

"This is the Premier League and you can't disrespect any team to say, 'it's must-win' or 'we'll turn up to win' because every game is difficult," he said.

"I was clear with the players: the performance [against Leicester] spoke for itself. The first half was fantastic. Normally that first half would be two or three-nil, and from then on very comfortable.

"We've shown some really good bits, but we've still got work to do. We're not where we want to be, and it would be impossible to say that three games into the season. It's not easy in pre-season with players coming back late to try and change everything in one go. You can't. You just have to work hard and keep trying to deliver messages throughout.

"We'll get better and the good times are good, but we also know there's a lot to improve on. We're not there yet."

N'Golo Kante faces a fitness test for the match, while Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi are not likely to return until after the international break.

"Kante has got an injury he has carried all week, so we'll assess that over the next 24 hours over whether he is [available]," Lampard added. "Rudiger's not fit yet, hopefully for next week. That's the only changes from where we were last week.

"Callum is training, looking bright and sharp but now we're in the zone where it's about protecting him, giving him conditioning with fitness, especially in the area of his injury. He has had quite a long time out.

"The international break comes at quite a good time for us with both of those and for Reece James. They're all in a position where, I hope, two or three weeks of strong training puts them back in the frame for the squad."

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard condemned the "disgusting" racist abuse aimed at Tammy Abraham and called for more to be done to eradicate a problem that continues to plague English football.

The 21-year-old was targeted on social media after missing the deciding spot-kick as Chelsea lost 5-4 on penalties to Liverpool following a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Super Cup.

England colleagues Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard are among those to have pledged support to Abraham, who has made just a handful of competitive appearances for the Blues.

Lampard also offered his backing to the young striker and praised him for showing the bravery to step up and take a penalty in Wednesday's clash.

"I am disgusted by this so-called Chelsea fan," Lampard said at Friday's news conference.

"I don’t know how it’s allowed - it’s too easy. Something needs to be done, as well as obviously changing mindsets completely.

"I’m so angry for Tammy and angry for us as a club, because that’s not what we’re about. The club does a lot of work against discrimination at all levels and it’s a setback when these things happen.

"Obviously he is more than disappointed - who wouldn’t be? Tammy asked me to take the fifth penalty because he wanted to stand up on a big night when the world was watching.

"Moments afterwards, somebody sitting behind a keyboard or a phone has said the most disgusting things possible.

"He is always desperate to score and that’s one of the things I love about him. He gets in positions regularly and that’s an indication of his character that he’s not hiding."

Chelsea produced an improved display in Istanbul, three days on from suffering a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in their opening Premier League match.

Lampard felt his side should have won the all-English affair in Turkey and is now looking to get off the mark with his first victory in Sunday's home match against Leicester City.

"We didn’t concede so many goals," Lampard said. "There were some really good parts in the Manchester United game. We just need to learn about the four errors from the goals.

"Liverpool are one of the best teams in the world and we matched them. We moved the ball and created chances.

"We lost on penalties but in the game we should have won. What’s important now is the reaction and we’re looking to get our first three points.

"We could have done without extra time, but it is what it is. We have an extra day until Sunday and the players are doing a lot of recovery rather than training."

With the transfer window for European clubs open until early next month, a number of Chelsea's fringe players have been tipped to move on in the next couple of weeks.

Lampard has ruled out an exit for Michy Batshuayi, who is behind Olivier Giroud and Abraham in the pecking order, but the futures of right-back Davide Zappacosta and midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko are less clear.

"Michy will stay here as one of our strikers," Lampard said. "We have three strikers this season and there will be opportunities for him. He’s very much our player and competing with Tammy and Ollie.

"As for Zappacosta, that is not clear yet. He is our player and Reece James is probably out for three more weeks. That will be a decision we have to make before the European transfer window closes, similar to Bakayoko."

Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.

Where will Inter outcast Mauro Icardi end up before the transfer window shuts on September 2?

The Ligue 1 champions are reportedly interested in the former Inter captain.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WANT ICARDI IF NEYMAR LEAVES

According to journalist Tancredi Palmeri, Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Inter forward Icardi.

Icardi is not wanted at Inter, where he has been deemed surplus to requirements by head coach Antonio Conte.

And Icardi has reportedly been offered to PSG by Inter, who apparently want to block Paulo Dybala moving to Paris from Juventus.

Palmeri's column for Tuttomercatoweb insists Icardi's transfer to PSG depends on Neymar's departure, with Barcelona and Real Madrid eyeing the Brazilian.

 

ROUND-UP 

- The Neymar saga is ongoing as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona try to strike a deal. Barca reportedly offered €80million plus Philippe Coutinho to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou, two years after his €222m departure. According to ESPN FC, Barca are willing to part with Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic as well as a fee.

Alexis Sanchez could be sent to Manchester United's reserves if he is not sold before the European window's closure, claims The Sun. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly desperate to move on Sanchez, who has been linked to Roma.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter and Juventus will go head-to-head to sign Fiorentina and Italy star Federico Chiesa at the end of 2019-20. Chiesa is a wanted man but new Viola owner Rocco Commisso is unwilling to sell his prized €70m asset.

Roma are preparing a bid to bring in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi. That is according to Sky Sport Italia, regardless of whether Edin Dzeko is sold to Inter. Batshuayi spent time on loan with Valencia and Crystal Palace last season.

Monaco have approached Juventus defender Daniele Rugani, claims Goal. Roma have also been linked to Rugani, however, reports in England say Liverpool's Dejan Lovren is the Giallorossi's first choice.

- According to Marca, Valencia want AC Milan striker Andre Silva to replace outgoing forward Rodrigo Moreno. Rodrigo is poised to join LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid and Silva is behind Krzysztof Piatek and Rafael Leao in Milan's pecking order. It comes as Milan try to wrap up a deal for Atletico forward Angel Correa.

Frank Lampard's Chelsea were held to a draw in the Blues great's first game as head coach after Bohemians scored a late equaliser in an entertaining pre-season friendly.

The Blues boss took the opportunity to give 22 different players a run out at Dalymount Park, with Willy Caballero, Cesar Azpilicueta, Danny Drinkwater and Pedro all featuring in a strong Chelsea starting line-up.

It took Michy Batshuayi just eight minutes to score the first goal of the Lampard era, firing home instinctively from six yards after he collected the rebound from Kenedy's deflected shot.

Pedro skied a free-kick over the crossbar as Chelsea dominated the first half, although Caballero was forced into a first save when former Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Danny Mandroiu forced the Argentine goalkeeper to punch a dipping shot away.

Lampard sent on 11 different players after half-time, with returning loanees Kurt Zouma, Izzy Brown and Tiemoue Bakayoko given the chance to impress.

Teenage midfielder Billy Gilmour and Bakayoko both squandered second-half chances as Chelsea failed to extend their lead, and the hosts passed up a number of opportunities to test Chelsea's second-half goalkeeper Jamie Cumming.

But Bohemians midfielder and trialist Eric Molloy made no mistake when he burst into the box with just over a minute left on the clock, lashing the ball high into the net beyond Cumming to deny Lampard a first win.

Frank Lampard could revive the Chelsea careers of Michy Batshuayi and Danny Drinkwater after pledging to take an open mind into pre-season.

New boss Lampard oversaw his first training session in Dublin on Friday ahead of friendly dates with Bohemians and St Patrick's Athletic.

Belgium striker Batshuayi and midfielder Drinkwater formed part of the travelling party and have been told they will get the opportunity to build a future at Stamford Bridge after failing to win favour with previous coaches.

Drinkwater did not play a minute under Maurizio Sarri last term save for a cameo in the Community Shield, while 25-year-old Batshuayi has made four Premier League starts since arriving at the club from Marseille in 2016.

"Everybody who joins up, and it will be staggered, will have the opportunity to show what they can do and their attitude, the way they play and train in pre-season and onwards," Lampard said.

"I would be a fool to come here with ideas about freezing anybody out. I want to get the best out of the squad.

"Everybody has an opportunity, I have no preconceived ideas about anybody.

"I have got good knowledge of the squad but I need to see them over the next month."

Brazilian winger Kenedy, centre-back Kurt Zouma and midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko also joined Lampard in Ireland after spending last season on loan at Newcastle United, Everton and AC Milan respectively.

Batshuayi could be the biggest beneficiary of the regime change with Gonzalo Higuain's return to Italy and a two-window transfer ban limiting Chelsea's striking stocks.

Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham are the only other centre-forwards available to Lampard, as Atletico Madrid are reportedly set to turn Alvaro Morata's 18-month loan into a permanent deal.

One day on from the end of Russia 2018, the sadness at bidding farewell to one of the greatest World Cups of all time is almost too much to bear, but an alternative award ceremony might alleviate some of the post-tournament blues. 

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