A second-half strike from Belgium’s Adnan Januzaj was enough to see off a much younger and second choice England side on Thursday in the final Group G match. With the defeat, the Three Lions finished the group stage at the second spot while the Red Devils continued their rampant march in FIFA World Cup 2018 and finished the first round with three consecutive victories.
Having secured the round of 16 berths already, managers of both the teams rested their top players in order to keep them fresh for the next matches. Gareth Southgate made 8 changes to the England squad that demolished Panama in their second group fixture while Roberto Martinez retained just Boyata and Courtois and changed the rest of the team.
A large section of fans expected fireworks from the highly-anticipated clash but it turned out to be a drab first half with both the sides preferring to sit deep and play counter-attacking football.
It was in the second half that Belgium brought the stadium back to life. In the 51st minute, Januzaj dribbled inside the box beautifully and scored passed a fully-stretched Jordan Pickford to give his side a 1-0 lead.
England launched a wave of attacks on Belgium’s defence later on but the Red Devils’ defence made sure they see out a victory in the game. The Three Lions certainly missed the imposing figure in captain Harry Kane and without a doubt, they will need their star man fit and fine, if they want to salvage a respectable finish in the ongoing tournament.
After the narrow win, Belgium finished the group stage at the first spot and will now face the runners-up of Group G, Japan, in the round of 16 match.
On the other hand, England which had to settle for the second spot after the defeat will clash with a much-stronger Colombia in the next round.