Hazard And Belgium Too Good For England In World Cup Play Off

Belgium

Fern Hawkins has led the cheers for England as Gareth Southgate's side take to the field one last time at the World Cup for the third-place playoff against Belgium.

It was Belgium's best-ever showing at a World Cup finals and an England side showing five changes in total from their semi-final line-up could have few complaints.

England appeared to be dominating before a typically piercing Belgium counterattack saw Nacer Chadli square the ball for Meunier to tap in at the far post in the fourth minute.

Thomas Meunier's early goal matched a World Cup record for Belgium by having 10 different players score in a tournament, something only done before by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

Belgium continued to threaten on the break and finished off the game when Kevin de Bruyne set Hazard clear and he swept his shot past Jordan Pickford.

Free-flowing Belgium too good for England: This young and largely inexperienced England side have plenty of talent, but on this showing they have a lot to do to match Belgium.

But England improved after the break and almost equalised when Eric Dier got clear and chipped over Thibaut Courtois, only for Toby Alderweireld to make a sliding clearance off the line. While Belgium won all of their games en route to their 2-1 loss to finalists France, England's only group match loss came at the hands of the Red Devils, although the result proved to be meaningless, before their exit in a 2-1 defeat to Croatia in extra-time.

Only Kylian Mbappe can catch him and the France teenager requires a hat-trick in the World Cup final to draw level, so we're looking at the England captain capturing the coveted personal prize with three penalties, one deflected effort he knew nothing about and two close-range strikes. European teams have claimed third place at the past nine World Cups.

It was an anticlimactic way for both these teams - who have given their fans some thrilling moments in Russian Federation - to end the World Cup but Belgium leave with a deserved piece of history.

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There are also starting spots for Phil Jones, Fabian Delph and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

For Belgium and their "golden generation", numerous key players should return for the 2022 World Cup, even if Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen will probably be gone by then.

In midfield, Kevin De Bruyne and Hazard ran the show, splitting England's defense apart at will.

Belgium\'s Thomas Meunier scores the opening goal.

Belgium earns its second win over England at this World Cup and its best ever finish at a World Cup. England, game but outmatched, managed to trouble the Belgians for about 20 second-half minutes but were helpless to stop their group-stage rivals once the Belgians flipped the switch.

6 - Roberto Martinez is a big fan of Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans, who got his big chance against England.

"We want to finish on a high and these players deserve to finish on a high", said the Spaniard coach. England. I think Harry Kane scores another goal to increase his lead on the Golden Boot, making it a flawless 10/10 Tottenham. England wins from a set piece.

55th minute, 1-0 Belgium: Kevin De Bruyne threads a flawless pass into the box and again Romelu Lukaku's touch lets him down.

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