Belgium 1 England 0: It's Colombia next for Southgate's men
PUBLISHED: 21:07 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 21:10 28 June 2018
Adnan Januzaj's stunning goal secured a much-changed Belgium side a 1-0 win over England's second string and meant Gareth Southgate's men will face Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup.
What looked like being one of the ties of the group stage instead became a rather strange encounter given the talk about the most favourable knockout route, including suggestions that finishing runners-up may be preferable.
Southgate dismissed that before seeing his team suffer their first defeat in a year, with Januzaj’s superb effort six minutes into the second half securing a narrow victory which earned Belgium top spot in Group G and a last-16 tie against Japan.
The Three Lions will be hoping to win their first knockout match since 2006 in Moscow next Tuesday, when widespread changes are again on the cards after their squad players struggled against Roberto Martinez’s reserves.
Belgium made nine changes and England eight for the pool decider in Kaliningrad, where the teams were booed off after a tepid first half in which Gary Cahill and Trent Alexander-Arnold both cleared off the line.
Southgate’s men would have progressed as group winners through fair play had the scores remained level, but former Manchester United man Januzaj’s moment of magic turned the game in Belgium’s favour.
Marcus Rashford and substitute Danny Welbeck went closest to an equaliser on a night when Belgium’s second ever win in this fixture left England plotting their route to Moscow.
Southgate said: “I think it was a pretty even game. They better controlled possession than us.
“They had the better chances in the first half, we had better in the second. It was a good test for us.”
Finishing second in the group means England are arguably now in the more favourable half of the draw, avoiding the possibility of facing Brazil in the quarter-finals should they get there.
The England boss said: “We want to win football matches so of course we’re not happy to come away from here having been beaten, but what that means for the next round we don’t really know.”