Belgium sink England to clinch top spot
Posted: 28 June 2018 Time: 20:34
Belgium ended as winners of Group G with a 1-0 victory over England at the Kaliningrad Stadium on Thursday evening, with both advancing to the World Cup last-16.
With qualification to the knockouts confirmed before kick-off, both sides made a plethora of changes, as England made eight from the 6-1 win over Panama, while Belgium named nine alterations from their 5-2 victory against Tunisia.
It was Belgium with the bright start as Youri Telemans asked questions of Jordan Pickford with a shot from distance which the goalkeeper palmed away emphatically in five minutes.
Within minutes, the Belgians again stamped their seriousness to get on the front foot in a goal-mouth scramble that ended with Gary Cahill clearing Michy Batshuayi's strike off the line.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek handed the English their first sight on goal with a header from a corner, but he failed to trouble Thibaut Courtois.
At the other end, the pressure from Roberto Martinez's men continued as a shot from Thorgan Hazard from outside the box sailed over the top.
From halftime, England introduced Harry Maguire in defence for John Stone who sustained a slight niggle towards the end of the first period.
Standing in for hotshot Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford got on the blindspot and attempted to find the top corner but his curling effort failed to hit ground.
Adnan Januzaj showed his former Manchester United teammate how to go about it when he played a one-two with Hazard before beating Pickford with a stunning curling effort to put Belgium ahead on 57 minutes.
England almost responded immediately, but Rashford missed a glorious chance after being sent clear by Jamie Vardy, though Courtois managed to keep him out with a finger-tip save.
Late chances from Belgium failed to add to their tally, but it didn’t matter as they ended victorious to finish the group as leaders, earning themselves a last-16 tie against Japan, while England will take on Colombia.