Belgium beat England 2-0 to win the bronze medal and it’s best-ever World Cup finish on Saturday July 14 at St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg. France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Belgium’s previous best was finishing fourth at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Defender Meunier opened scoring in the fourth minute, knocking a cross from Nacer Chadli past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Hazard added the other off a pass from Kevin de Bruyne in the 82nd minute.
Midfielder Nacer Chadi picked up a through ball on the left side during the sequence. Chadi used his first touch to send a cross into the box, finding Meunier running central. Meunier got a touch on the ball with his right boot, slipping it past the England goalkeeper at the far post.
Toby Alderweireld denied England’s best chance of the game, sliding on the goal line to clear a shot from Eric Dier.
Meunier’s goal was the earliest goal that Belgium scored in the World Cup and was also the earliest goal England allowed in the tournament.
Both teams went into halftime with the score at 1-0, before Eden Hazard got some insurance for Belgium.
Kevin de Bruyne pushed a ball ahead to the Chelsea star, finding him on the left side of the box in the 82nd minute. Man of the Match, Eden Hazard pushed the ball to his right, before coming back and blasting a ball into the near post netting past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for Belgium’s final tally.
It was Belgium’s second win over England in the tournament, following the 1-0 victory in the group stage. It is Roberto Martinez 2-0 England. The Belgium boss has masterminded two wins over England at the same World Cup and he sported a beaming smile as he stood with his players on the pitch awaiting the presentation. He made five changes to the team beaten 2-1 by Croatia in the last four, as England fielded their youngest World Cup line-up in history, with an average age of 25 years and 174 days. Phil Jones, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all came into the side, while Belgium boss Roberto Martinez recalled Meunier and handed a start to Youri Tielemans.
With today’s win, the Red Devils have become the fourth side to win six games at a World Cup but not lift the Trophy (penalty shootouts counted as draws) – after Poland (1974, third), Italy (1990, third) and Netherlands (2010, runners-up).
England, which lost to Croatia in the semifinals, matched its best World Cup result, fourth in 1990, since winning the tournament for the only time in 1966.
“In the second half we played really well. We had them on the ropes for the first half-hour of that and we just couldn’t get a goal. We had one cleared off the line and we put the pressure on. But the lads couldn’t give any more, it has been a tough tournament. Belgium are obviously a good team. I can’t fault the lads, we gave it everything.” England captain, Harry Kane said at the post game press conference.
With one game remaining, Harry Kane tops the 2018 World Cup scoring charts. Only Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann remain a threat but they will need to grab a hat-trick in Sunday’s final against Croatia to join him on the top spot.
“Belgium are a better side than us. We had to play flat out. We had a day less to repair and recover. It was a game too far for us. Belgium are a top team and they will be thinking they should have gone further than they did. We caused them problems and pinned them back but they have players of the highest quality. Two years on, you look at the number of caps and age of squad for Belgium. This is their peak but we are nowhere near that and we knew that the whole way through.” England coach, Gareth Southgate said.
“We have been competitive, over achieved our landmark and to finish in the top four is probably above where we are currently. But the players deserve every bit of praise they will get when they come back. We have tried to maximize the players we have and their individual profiles. It’s not club football, you can’t go and buy players but for me the players who have been here have conducted themselves exquisitely. I can’t have asked for any more from them.” England coach, Gareth Southgate added.
“In the end we are very proud of what we’ve done. We’re under no illusions as to where we stand as a team; we’ve finished in the final four but we’re not a top-four team yet, we know that and we’ve never hidden behind that. Against the very best teams we’ve come up short but we’ve had a wonderful adventure and some experiences that will stand this group of players and staff in really good stead for the future. I couldn’t ask any more of any of the players today or right the way through the seven weeks we’ve worked together.” England coach, Gareth Southgate added.
“We wanted to win it. When you beat Brazil and get into the semi-final, the focus has to be to try to win the World Cup. But you need to be realistic when you finish the tournament and look back. These players made history back in Belgium and that’s all that matters. These players deserve to have that accolade. The generation of Mexico 86 set a real inspiration and real vision for all the footballers in Belgium. Now this group of players overcame that and that’s historic; it took 32 years to be able to be in this position, so there’s real satisfaction and real success. It’s the manner we achieved that – the football we played is Belgian football, it’s our brand. And the togetherness and flexibility we had tactically shows what we want to be as a footballing nation. It has been a really nice journey, a really successful journey but in football you need to look forward and try to improve in the next opportunity that we have.” Belgium coach, Roberto Martinez said.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups proceeded to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on Sunday, July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.