Belgium defeats England 1-0 to win Group G amidst questionable stakes

30 June, 2018, 00:37 | Author: Felix Jensen

With both managers making wholesale changes having already secured qualification from the group, the two teams played with so little intensity during the first half that they were booed and jeered by local fans inside the ground at half-time.

Mission accomplished, I suppose.

Scifo and Ceulemans both rattled the woodwork but, with both sides gearing up for a penalty shootout, England's Paul Gascoigne won a free kick 30 metres out in the 120th minute.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who became only the fourth teenager to start a World Cup match for England, following Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Michael Owen, played well but doesn't stand a hope of usurping Kieran Trippier.

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said he was relieved his team - who reached the quarter-finals in Brazil in 2014 - were going through from a tough group.

Southgate's plan certainly is a gamble. It was Belgium's first win over England since 1936, and extends The Red Devils unbeaten streak to 22 matches.

"Not that England have lost tonight but that there were players in that Belgium second XI that would be in our first XI", he told ITV. Tunisia is ranked 51 in the world by ELO and Panama 54, leading you to wonder how they even made it into a tournament of the world's 32 best teams.

"We have no idea who, when or where we will play in the next round".

A brilliant 51st-minute strike from Januzaj was enough to give Belgium the victory and claim top spot in Group G, to set up a clash with Japan in Rostov.

But although Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez is talking about the match as a "celebration", where winning is less important that rotating his squad, for Belgian fans there is a hunger for revenge for 28 years of hurt since Italia '90.

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"Well, honestly, I am delighted, just in the manner of the performance", Martinez said.

The downside came in the poor display from Eric Dier, whose pedestrian effort cemented Jordan Henderson's place as midfield anchorman while Phil Jones did nothing to suggest he would be a significant figure again.

"In England I had a lot of criticism".

One day later, England's Kane scored a hat trick, adding to his two goals in England's opener, and leads the World Cup with five goals.

There's something to be said for form and belief and momentum - all things Colombia established following back-to-back clean sheet wins over Poland and a Senegalese team that's among the scrappiest in the tournament.

In 2013, then-England manager Roy Hodgson announced his staff were monitoring the progress of Januzaj, should the player become a naturalized British citizen, but the player appearing for England would have breached Federation Internationale de Football Association rules.

He contradicted himself by essentially saying England is still growing ahead of a fixture in which it can't afford to be uncertain. Even at Tottenham, the striker is known for his dedication to play in every game, no matter the competition.

"We don't suffer for (the loss)", Southgate said.

British TV pundits were certain in their post-game assessments that the Three Lions' path to the semifinals is easier than the one Belgium received for winning the group. With the Fair Play tie-breaker in mind, it was not a thriller in Kaliningrad until Adnan Januzaj made a decision to spice things up a bit.



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