Belgium beat England 1-0 on Thursday to win Group G and both countries advance to the knockout rounds after their FIFA World Cup preliminary round football (soccer) match at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia.
Adnan Januzaj scored with a curling shot in the 51st minute on a night of little tension or attacking intent.
With the victory, Belgium gets what appears to be an easier match in the next round against Japan on Monday in Rostov-on-Don. England will face Colombia on Tuesday in Moscow.
Belgium is one of only three teams to advance to the knockout round with 3-0 records from the group stage. Croatia and Uruguay are the others.
England and Belgium made a combined 17 changes to their starting lineups to rest players for the knockout round. Harry Kane, the leading scorer at the tournament with five goals, was on the bench for England. So was Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four for Belgium.
Both teams had advanced to the round of 16 before the match.
The Red Devils were not hugely impressive but their narrative is ongoing: they keep winning at this World Cup, and they haven’t lost for 23 matches. The Belgians want to see themselves as potential Finalists and there is no better way than finishing first in the group to show that they are in control.
“The victory is a consequence of a very good performance. You cannot plan the ideal scenario, you’ve seen big nations already eliminated. We need to look at ourselves, we are a stronger group than we were before the game. We’re facing Japan, we’ve got to be ready for it.” Roberto Martinez, Belgium coach said at the post game presser.
“We want to win every game and we’re disappointed we couldn’t do that today. I thought it was quite an even game. We created some good chances. We needed to finish one of them, that was all that was missing really. Belgium have a lot of players with a lot of quality and the game was decided by a piece of great quality. No matter what, we’re disappointed we’ve lost today but the most important thing is that we’re through to the next round.” Eric Dier said.
“I think it’s an even game. I thought they had better controlled possession than us at times. It was a good test for us. This was a game that we wanted to win, but the knockout game is the biggest game for a decade for us so we had to make sure our key players were preserved. The players who’ve played tonight have given absolutely everything and never stopped. Everyone’s seen the level that we’ve been playing at and we’ve got to keep improving.” Gareth Southgate, England coach 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 will proceed 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 July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.