Belgium defeated England 2-0 today after a lackluster game at the Krestovsky Stadium. With this result, England place fourth in the tournament whilst Belgium secured third. This is the Red Devils best ever World Cup finish.
Belgium- Meunier 4′, Hazard 81′
Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Meunier, Witsel, De Bruyne, Tielemans (Dembele 77′), Chadli (Vermaelen 39′), Lukaku (Mertens 60′), Hazard
Pickford, Jones, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Dier, Delph, Rose (Lingard 45′), Loftus-Cheek (Alli 83′), Sterling (Rashford 45′), Kane
Only four minutes had passed before Belgium drew first blood in this game. The full-back Meunier was found at the back post from a cross, where he tapped the ball into the net ahead of Rose. A dream start for Belgium here in the Krestovsky Stadium.
After this poor start, England slowly but surely eased themselves into this game. They continually applied pressure to Belgium whilst remaining relatively solid at the back. However, the side still lack that final clinical finishing touch. Harry Kane, who was agonisingly quiet against Croatia, seemed to have lost his shooting boots recently. Despite the beginning of this match, these two sides seemed relatively well-matched after the first half-hour of play.
Raheem Sterling still remained ineffective throughout this first half. The attacking midfielder played outstandingly for Manchester City last season, with a lethal combination of pace and skillful dribbling. Sterling, however, can never quite function when clad in England colours. In the large majority of this campaign, his main contributions to the side have been constant missed shots or failed dribbles. As arguably one of the best assets available to England, Sterling really needs to up his game for the Three Lions.
That’s all she wrote for a relatively quiet and uneventful first half. An early goal gave Belgium the edge here, however the remainder of this half remained fairly equal. All to play for here. Half time, Belgium 1-0 England.
England began this half brightly, enjoying several half-chances. Throughout the first ten minutes of the second half, the Three Lions already look better than they did in the entirety of the first. They still lacked that crucial passing finesse, however. This was also their main downfall against Croatia. In this game, they fell victim to the same curse.
An excellent chance fell to England, however, when a great one-two pass with Marcus Rashford allowed Eric Dier to enter the box unmarked. His chipped shot over the keeper, however, was incredibly saved by a goal-line clearance from Toby Alderweireld. A glimmer of hope for England, but would they regret not making the most of this chance?
The Three Lions continued to apply the pressure here, with several half-chances arising from set-piece situations. Better again from England, but they desperately needed to make something work in this last fifteen minutes. Pickford was still being kept busy, as he makes yet another incredible save from a Meunier volley. We truly witnessed a rising star in this World Cup, and it came from Washington, Sunderland.
This World Cup campaign definitively came to an end for England, however, when poor defending led to a near-post finish for Eden Hazard. Brilliant play from Belgium. With a win here, the Red Devils would gain their best ever finish at a World Cup.
The final whistle blowed after a rather uneventful match. Belgium secure a third-place finish, with England settling for fourth. Final score, Belgium 2-0 English.
The Lazy Fan View
Belgium wholeheartedly deserve to place third in this World Cup. Throughout this tournament, the Red Devils have shown their dominance as a unit. The truly terrifying aspect of this side is the incredibly young age of their players. Stars such as Romelu Lukaku and Youri Tielemans will no doubt be available four years in the future. A brilliant performance from Belgium this year, and they will definitely be back for more.
England made their nation proud this year. The fans should not let the final two unimpressive performances cloud their vision of this tournament’s successes. For once, England looked like the team to beat in many of their games. Overall, this side played with passion this year- an aspect which has been missing from recent tournaments. The Three Lions gave the country a show this year, and the team and fans alike should be very proud.