Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain has announced his retirement from international football with Argentina, citing family reasons.
The 31-year-old, who joined Chelsea in January on a loan deal from Juventus, scored 31 goals in 75 appearances for the Albiceleste, with his last match a 2-1 win over Nigeria in the World Cup last June.
Explaining his decision in an interview with Fox Sports, Higuain said: “My time with Argentina is over. Thinking things through in depth, my time is up.
“To the delight of many, now I will only look at it from the outside. I have spoken to (manager Lionel) Scaloni and told him my point of view.
“I’ve made the decision because I want to enjoy my family, I want to spend time with my daughter, and at the same time, I feel that I gave my country everything I could.”
Higuain, who has scored three goals in 10 appearances since joining Chelsea towards the end of January, added: “I’m fully focused on my commitment to Chelsea.
“The Premier League is amazing and I really want to enjoy it. It’s very competitive indeed.”
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Spain defender Sergio Ramos admitted that Luis Enrique prepared the team well for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta despite being absent from the touchlines.
Alvaro Morata scored two goals as La Roja went to the top of their qualification group, owing much to the gameplan created by Enrique.
With the Spain coach missing the match because of family reasons, assistant Robert Moreno took charge of the team, which showed some seven fresh faces from the side which had beaten Norway in Valencia on Saturday.
“Despite the coach being absent, we were very well prepared,” Ramos said to Marca.
“It’s been a difficult situation and the group has felt for the coach having a personal problem.
“We dedicate this victory to him and his family, we’ve done what we had to do, in this team we’re all a family and everyone feels each other’s personal problems.
Roberto Mancini expects Italy‘s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bosnia and Greece in June to be “fundamental games for the group.”
Italy posted a second successive win at the start of their qualifying campaign by brushing aside Liechtenstein 6-0 in Parma.
Liechtenstein played the second half with 10 men after Daniel Kaufmann was sent off, but Italy had already inflicted too much damage, scoring four first half goals.
Veteran Fabio Quagliarella became Italy’s oldest international goalscorer at 36 when he converted the first of two penalties.
And they followed goals by Stefano Sensi and Marco Verratti, before Juventus star Moise Kean added a fifth 20 minutes from time and Leonardo Pavoletti completed the scoring.
“We had the right approach from the start,” Italy manager Mancini told Rai Sport.
“The win was assumed, but it was important to keep the right concentration levels and score a lot of goals.
“It was crucial that we created lots of chances and passing moves to make it a real game.
“In June, Bosnia and Greece will probably be fundamental games for the group.”
⏱ FULL-TIME ⏱— Italy (@azzurri) March 26, 2019
Italy make it 2⃣ wins from 2⃣ in Group J with a professional and commanding performance 💪#EuropeanQualifiers 🇪🇺#ItalyLiechtenstein 🇮🇹 🇱🇮 6⃣-0⃣
⚽️ 17’ #Sensi, 33’ #Verratti, 35’, 45’ #Quagliarella (pen. x2), 70’ #Kean, 76’ #Pavoletti#Azzurri #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/OPlPvWuP1X
And Quagliarella added: “It’s a wonderful evening with two goals.
“I am 36-years-old, but I don’t feel it. I am happy, physically in good shape.
“I thank Roberto Mancini, who watched me throughout the season and gave me this opportunity.
“We are top of the group, and it’s a young squad that can only grow.”