Belgium 2-0 England - Player Ratings

Elena Summers
July 15, 2018

England's defender John Stones (L) vies with Belgium's forward Eden Hazard during their Russian Federation 2018 World Cup play-off for third place football match between Belgium and England at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 14, 2018. The Belgians grabbed an immediate lead through Thomas Meunier who netted the go-ahead goal inside the match's first five minutes, before doubling their lead in the game's final stretch through a late Eden Hazard strike. Harry Kane is on six goals and Romelu Lukaku is on four, but I don't expect either to start so that might be a moot point. England. I think Harry Kane scores another goal to increase his lead on the Golden Boot, making it a flawless 10/10 Tottenham.

When these two teams last met, the outcome would determine which would finish top of Group G and consequently navigate the so-called "harder" route to the final. Belgium fell to France 1-0 in the other semifinal, but still would notch their best finish at a World Cup with a win.

Third place would be Belgium's best-ever World Cup performance. They also finished fourth in 1990 and Southgate was pleased with the way his team handled the game.

This is the fourth meeting between Belgium and England at the FIFA World Cup.

France is looking to win its first World Cup since 1998 - and to make amends for its loss to Italy in the 2006 final, and its defeat at the hands of Portugal in the Euro 2016 final.

After they play Belgium they will check out on Sunday morning and fly home to Birmingham Airport, although officials have warned fans at home not to come and see the players. With the chance to win the World Cup gone, a third place finish is nothing but a consolation for the losing semi-finalists. Great credit to them (Belgium) - they'll probably think they should have got further.

Southgate says his selection will be based primarily on the fitness of individual players suggesting he will resist the temptation to give some fringe players a run-out.

The simple fact of the matter is that Southgate has taken a generally young, inexperienced team to a huge tournament, and have performed against the odds to even get beyond the quarter-finals.

However, he insisted that will not alter England´s approach as they look to achieve their best finish since they won the competition in 1966.

Never has the beauty and beast analogy been more apt than in the link-up of De Bruyne and Lukaku but the Manchester United man will rue not adding to his tally.

It was mostly Belgium in the early going and England's attitude toward the match was perhaps best summed up by Danny Rose's socks. Goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard were the difference in the end on paper but did not fully reflect the gulf in class between the two sides.

Chances for Romelu Lukaku and another for Meunier came and went and England looked relieved to hear the half-time whistle, which prevented another Belgium corner.

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.

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