Belgium tops England to finish third at World Cup


The PSG right wingback didn't play in Belgium's semifinal loss to France due to a yellow-card suspension, and while Meunier doesn't get the accolades of his better known teammates, he made it clear again vs. England with his early goal that he is one of Belgium's most unsafe attacking players.

England skipper Harry Kane is the tournament´s top scorer on six goals, while Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku trails by two in the race for the Golden Boot.

24th minute, 1-0 Belgium: England is starting to settle in, but shots by Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling sailed wide of the net.

Both Belgium and England started the tournament in Group G. The two teams previously played each other in a group round match on June 28.

"It's not a game any team wants to play", said England manager Gareth Southgate after his team lost 2-1 to Croatia after extra time in Wednesday's second semifinal.

Belgium were bitterly disappointed not to have made the final after an end-to-end semi-final against France but third is their highest finish at a World Cup, their previous best being fourth in 1986.

Eric Dier had England's best chance of the match on 70 minutes, when he looked set to reprise Belgium legend Philippe Albert's famous goal against Germany at the 1994 World Cup.

Belgium finally put the game to bed some 10 minutes later, when De Bruyne fed Hazard who broke into the England box and beat Pickford at the near post to make it 2-0 in the 82nd minute.

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Not even Neymar and mighty Brazil managed to get the better of Belgium, who have scored a tournament-high 16 goals. It is their most successful finish at a World Cup.

Roberto Martinez switched nine players and Southgate brought in eight, a decision he described as a no brainer in the circumstances.

"The honest thing is it's not a game any team wants to play in", Southgate told the BBC. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will both be 31 by the time the 2020 World Cup in Qatar rolls around.

Prior to their match with England on Saturday, their goal tally stood at 14, meaning that two more were needed for the refunds to be handed out. "We need to improve, we need to get better but that will come", he said. If his World Cup performance is anything to go by, he can expect offers from a number of clubs to lure him from the Hawthorns. "I can't fault the lads, we gave everything", said England captain Harry Kane.

Belgium were comfortably the stronger side throughout the contest and took an early lead through Thomas Meunier.

Once Alli and Lingard introduced in the second half, England's game picked up pace and they were creating a lot. But.

With England pushing forward, Meunier almost produced one of the goals of the tournament, his crisp volley from a Dries Mertens cross drawing an excellent one-handed stop from Pickford.

But it mattered little in the end, Hazard making no mistake with his near-post finish having been sent clean through by De Bruyne, the star pair combining to put a fitting seal on Belgium's impressive showing in Russian Federation.