Bronze for Belgium, more disappointment for England
BELGIUM 2 (Meunier 4’, Hazard 82’)
By Caleb Lawrence
Belgium has achieved its best World Cup result in defeating England 2-0 in the 3rd place play-off at Russia 2018.
Goals from Eden Hazard and Thomas Meunier again highlighted the potency of the Belgians on the counter-attack.
For England, a fourth place is its best result since 1990 but losses to Croatia in the semi-final and here in St Petersburg have taken the gloss off a campaign that showed the country had made some progress on the international stage.
England manager Gareth Southgate opted for a different starting 11 by leaving out midfielders Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Danny Rose.
Belgium had the advantage with one more day’s rest after the semi-finals and it showed in the opening stages.
They scored in just the fourth minute when Nacer Chadli whipped the ball across the face of Jordan Pickford’s goal and Meunier got the jump on Rose to guide it home from close range.
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) July 14, 2018
With England down 1-0 at the half, Southgate brought on Marcus Rashford and Lingard for inspiration in the attacking third.
And although England dominated the second half with 58 per cent possession, it failed to turn this dominance into meaningful chances with the final pass often breaking down in the Belgium box.
— England (@England) July 14, 2018
England looked to have equalised in the 71st minute when Eric Dier got free in the box after a neat one-two with Rashford and delicately dinked his shot over Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois only to be denied by a goal line clearance by Spurs club team mate Toby Alderweireld.
Belgium put the game out of reach when Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball put Eden Hazard in behind the English defence and, one-on-one with the keeper, he finished inside the near post
The bronze medal for Belgium surpasses the country’s fourth place in 1986 and, barring a blowout in the final, they will finish as the top scoring nation with 16 goals, well ahead of finalists Croatia (12) and France (10).
England: J. Pickford (GK), P. Jones, J. Stones, H. Maguire, E. Dier, K. Trippier, D. Rose (46’), R. Loftus Cheek (84’), F. Delph, H. Kane, R. Sterling (46’)
Substitutes used: M. Rashford (46’), J. Lingard (46’), D. Alli (84’)
Belgium: T. Courtois (GK), J. Vertonghen, V. Kompany, T. Alderweireld, N. Chadli (39’), A. Witsel, Y. Tielemans (78’), T. Meunier, K. De Bruyne, E, Hazard, R. Lukaku (60’)
Substitutes used: T. Vermaelen (39’), D. Mertens (60’), M. Dembele (78’)