Belgium beat England to take third place at World Cup

Jack Butland

Getty Images

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.

Martinez, who signed an extension until after Euro 2020 in May, can guide Belgium to the nation´s best result at the World Cup.

Meunier's goal came after Romelu Lukaku swung the ball out left to Nacer Chadli who burst down the wing and slipped the ball across the face of the goal and the midfielder confidently slotted past Jordan Pickford.

His Belgian counterpart Roberto Martínez was similarly unenthused about the game after his side were beaten 1-0 by France on Tuesday. "We played seven matches and won six", he said.

But that's what England and Belgium must do this afternoon - though the game could yet turn into a Golden Boot shoot-out.

They received a let-off when Lukaku failed to control a defence-splitting pass from De Bruyne, allowing Pickford to charge off his line to smother. They will still be licking their wounds as Belgium looks fresher and more interested. This Belgian team should be proud of what it achieved in Russian Federation, but surely they will also be haunted by their inability to finish the job.

Romelu Lukaku couldn't add to his four goals for Belgium and was substituted shortly after misjudging a through ball by De Bruyne.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Eric Dier and Danny Rose are likely to start, while Harry Kane has declared himself fit. Meunier hit the final shot that England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford did well to parry away.

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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. "We've had a lot of praise, which has been nice, but also balanced with that a lot of reality as well. To be able to finish third, the best finish for the Belgian national team, would be an achievement we salute more than individual awards". Belgium's back line has been able to clear the danger easily. But the lads couldn't give any more, it has been a tough tournament.

33' - England and Belgium have been trading possession with neither team threatening much. "It's a game we need to play at a good level and we need to have fresh legs".

Thomas Meunier gave Belgium an early lead with a goal in the fourth minute.

While France will compete for their second World Cup title and Croatia their first in the final on Sunday, England and Belgium must be content to battle it out for the consolation prize of third place; a game that England Manager Gareth Southgate says that his team will approach with pride. We scored the biggest amount of goals in a Belgian team in World Cup history. Harry does not have an injury but we will see how he feels. As such, the things we love can no longer sustain our wonder according to how we hope they are; rather, we must rely instead on how they actually are, a terrifying standard in any context.

Watch Highlights of the previous meeting of England and Elgium earlier this World Cup.

Saturday's game will be a completely different affair, but should be a well matched contest.

But no competition can be judged exclusively by such a standard, particularly when there were so many thrashings. "There's a culture that exists now that when we come together, we expect every new player to follow".

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