With both teams already through to the Round of 16 before a ball had been kicked and relatively little riding on this encounter, the England and Belgium coaches rang the changes compared to their previous fixtures. As a result, there was unsurprisingly a disjointed and somewhat subdued feel to the game right from the off, with many players struggling to find their bearings.

That is not to say there were no chances. The Belgians were the first to threaten. Jordan Pickford denied Mousa Dembele early on before keeping out Marouane Fellaini. Trent Alexander-Arnold then saw his cross-shot whistle narrowly past the post on the half-hour mark and Ruben Loftus-Cheek failed to find the target with a header four minutes later. However, that was about as good as it got in the first half, leaving the crowd at the Kaliningrad Stadium craving more action after the break.

Soon enough, Adnan Januzaj ensured that the fans would go home having got their money’s worth. With just six minutes on the clock in the second period, the Belgium attacking midfielder dropped a shoulder, skipped past Danny Rose and curled a sumptuous left-footed strike into the top corner. To their credit, the Three Lions did not lie down after going behind. Phil Jones had an opportunity to equalise after an hour and Marcus Rashford twice went close, but Belgium held on to secure their third win in as many matches at Russia 2018 and clinch top spot in the group.

Team Reporter Analysis
_Laure James with England [Follow: Twitter]_This game had two intended illustrations for Gareth Southgate, firstly offering him a chance to see players who were yet to start a World Cup game under his watch, and revealing their last-16 opposition. While his side, with its eight changes, stumbled through a fairly uneventful first half, they edged Belgium on possession and both Danny Rose and Trent Alexander-Arnold gave encouraging performances, while the team stuck to the system and looked ready to prey on set-pieces. Adnan Januzaj’s beautifully curled finish brought out a more competitive streak in the Three Lions, however, as those players competing for starting positions battled to prove a point to the dugout.

Simon Massart with Belgium [Follow: Twitter]
Roberto Martinez had thrown down the gauntlet to the incoming understudies, challenging them to seize their chance and stake their claim to dislodge the regular starters. While he can be pleased with a symbolic victory over big-name opposition, the coach will not be prompted into rethinking his plans in the Round of 16. Leaving aside bright spark Adnan Januzaj, the Red Devils struggled to impose their tempo on a match that was undermined by sloppiness and a general lack of intensity.

Budweiser Man of the Match
Not only did he score the game’s only goal, but Adnan Januzaj did so in style, beating Danny Rose before bending a magnificent effort right into the top corner. However, that was far from his only notable contribution: the right winger constantly looked to make things happen throughout the match, wreaking havoc up his flank.

The stat
82 –Today’s 1-0 victory ended Belgium’s 82-year winless run against England. You have to go back to a friendly played in Brussels on 9 May 1936 for the last time the Red Devils had beaten the Three Lions. The scoreline was 3-2 on that occasion.

*What’s next *    
Belgium v Japan – Round of 16, 2 July, Rostov-on-Don
Colombia v England – Round of 16, 3 July, Moscow (Spartak Stadium)

See also



Russia 2018 Visual Stories




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With both teams already through to the Round of 16 before a ball had been kicked and relatively little riding on this encounter, the England and Belgium coaches rang the changes compared to their previous fixtures. As a result, there was unsurprisingly...