World Cup: England Simply Outclassed And Outgunned As Belgium Gallop To Historic Third Place Finish (Photos & Video)

Chris Wright

14th, July 2018

1 Comment

Embed from Getty Images

Belgium secured their best ever finish at a World Cup with a largely straightforward 2-0 victory over England in the third/fourth place play-off in St Petersburg.

It took less than four minutes for England to fall behind after being caught cold by a sharp counter that culminated in Thomas Meunier brushing past Danny Rose to shin a volley past Jordan Pickford from six yards out.

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the first half, with Belgium amassing most of the meaningful possession while England spent the majority of the time spectating from a respectable difference.

Romelu Lukaku was at his most frustratingly profligate, miscontrolling several of Kevin De Bruyne’s cutsey through-balls as multiple well-worked openings were squandered.

Embed from Getty Images

There were a few bright points for England – notably Kieran Trippier’s consistently dangerous delivery from out on the right flank and the individual performance of Ruben Loftus-Cheek who once again impressed with his tracking, movement and skilful manoeuvring.

Embed from Getty Images

England gave a little more in the early stages of the second half and even carved out a couple of half-chances but, almost embodied by a visibly enervated Harry Kane, things just wouldn’t click.

Even the introduction of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford at the interval very slightly affected the impetus, as both Manchester United forwards moved the ball quickly but bristled only rarely in the 45 minutes they were afforded.

Embed from Getty Images

As the game dragged on, Gareth Southgate’s side looked increasingly spent as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens waited patiently for possession to turn over before galloping up-field seeking to kill off the game with quick, precise counter-attacks.

Embed from Getty Images

Indeed, it was precisely one of those thrusting moves that resulted in Belgium’s second and final goal of the afternoon, coming in the 82nd minute.

A single, simple, perfectly dispensed De Bruyne pass found Hazard on the charge who firstly bamboozled Phil Jones before tucking past Pickford.

And that’s how it finished, with the Red Devils treading new ground by finishing third at a World Cup for the first time in their history.

Not that anybody really cares, but England end on a slightly underwhelming note after overachieving in Russia, not that it should affect the regard in which their efforts should be held.

Embed from Getty Images

The Three Lions do however bow out having mustered the second lowest tally of shots from open play per 90 minutes of all 32 competing nations in the tournament, having played several more games than the majority.

Therein, you might conclude, lies the crux of the matter.