Belgium beat England 2-0 to clinch third place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, courtesy of goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard on Saturday.
Having fallen shy of making their maiden World Cup final appearance due to a 1-0 defeat to France earlier this week, the Red Devils’ golden generation stepped up to achieve the nation’s best-ever finish in a World Cup tournament, bettering the fourth-place finish achieved back in 1986.
Both Roberto Martinez and Gareth Southgate named largely unchanged sides and it was Belgium who started the game strongly, with full-back Meunier handing them the lead as early as the fourth minute. The PSG star got on the end of a lovely cross from Nacer Chadli to finish past Jordan Pickford.
England captain Harry Kane had a great chance to get his team back on level terms, after being played in by Raheem Sterling following some intelligent play. But the World Cup’s leading goalscorer scuffed his effort wide of the mark.
Toby Alderweireld came close to scoring at the other end, with his effort flying over the bar, while Romelu Lukaku also missed a glorious chance to close down on Kane’s goal tally after being played in by Kevin De Bruyne, as Belgium went into the break with their lead intact.
Southgate responded by introducing Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard after the break. And the latter almost made an immediate impact after coming on, when his rasping drive across the goal narrowly evaded Kane’s boots.
At the other end, Lukaku spurned another great opportunity, after being played in brilliantly by De Bruyne once again. That turned out to be the burly striker’s last action, as he was replaced for Dries Mertens.
With England struggling to find a way back into the game, midfielder Eric Dier almost managed to reinstate parity with twenty minutes to spare. The Tottenham Hotspur man burst through on goal and dinked the ball over Thibaut Courtois in a one-on-one situation, only to see club teammate Alderweireld hack the ball off the line.
Jordan Pickford them came to England’s rescue, pulling off a brilliant one-handed save to deny Meunier a second goal on the day and keep the Three Lions in the game. However, it would come to matter little, as Belgium captain Hazard made no mistake after being sent through by De Bruyne in the dying embers of the match to put the game to bed and end his team’s journey on a high.
Here’s how the fans worldwide reacted to the match on social media.
Predicted Southampton lineup to take on Liverpool in the Premier League The Southampton vs Liverpool game would matter more to…
Predicted Manchester City lineup to face Chelsea in the Premier League Manchester City are nearly there. Pep Guardiola's side are…
Predicted Tottenham line-up to face Leeds United in the Premier League The most that Tottenham Hotspur can do now this…
Predicted Manchester City lineup to face Crystal Palace in the Premier League It's back to Premier League football for Manchester…