Belgium v England Match Report:
Belgium made it two wins from two games against England at this edition of the World Cup. Before the trip to Russia, the Red Devils had only beaten England once and that was 82 years ago. But this is a different Belgian team than the one that last played England in 2012 and their more experienced “Golden Generation” of players showed class and their superiority over Gareth Southgate’s young team.
And it didn’t take long for Roberto Martinez’s men to get on the scoreboard. With just four minutes on the clock, Chadli found himself on the end of through ball from Lukaku which tore open the English defence. Chadli put a in a low cross from the left toward Meunier in the six yard area, who got in front of Danny Rose to poke one past Pickford with his shin.
After that, England enjoyed the majority of possession but really did nothing to trouble Courtois. Belgian, on the other hand, looked dangerous every time they won back possession and pushed forward, and could have been two or three up by the break. England needed their captain to get more into the game but Kane was very quiet. He did find himself involved in England’s best chance of the second half in the 23rd minute, but his shot was weak and wide. He really should have done better after Sterling did so well to take down a long ball and square a nice pass to him in space and at the edge of the box. That was the closest England came and the first half finished with Belgium one up.
Whatever Southgate had said to his players at the break seemed to work. His team started with much more intent in the second half, pushing forward and high up the pitch in search of an equalizer. They piled on the pressure for 20 to 25 minutes and came close on several occasions, with one effort cleared off the line. But that was as close as England would come to a goal.
Of course playing so high up the pitch always was going to leave them exposed to the Belgian counter attack, and Martinez’s men also had their fair share of chances when they intercepted England in their own third and pushed forward quickly on the counter with the likes of De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku leading the charge.
And in the 82nd minute, it was through De Bruyne and Hazard that Belgium found their second goal. De Bruyne collected the ball in midfield and burst forward, drawing in three or four English defenders. This of course opened up space for Hazard, for whom De Bruyne slotted a through ball. Hazard did well to shrug off the challenge of Maguire to leave himself one on one with Pickford. Calm and collected, the Chelsea man picked his spot and drove the ball with ease passed Pickford into the bottom corner. England really had nothing to give after that and the game finished 2-0.
Belgium head home with the bronze medals deservedly around their necks. The third place finish is their best ever at a World Cup, surpassing their fourth place finish in 1986. England meanwhile will be disappointed, but can only take their hats off to a Belgian side that were far better on the day. But a fourth place finish is nothing to be laughed at for Southgate’s young side, who can go home with their heads held high.
Belgium v England live feed:
93' And that's it. The ref blows it up and Belgium go in comfortable winners. They were the much better side on the day, and England, despite starting the second half well and laying on the pressure for a good 20-25 minutes, could not get on the score sheet. Belgium's experience has been far superiour to England's youth today, and it seemed clear that there was only going to be one winner after Meunier's goal in the fourth minute. And that's it from us here. Thanks for tuning in.
92' Belgium haven't had enough, they want a third goal. And they almost could have had it, had De Bruyne's cross to Meunier been better. Hazard again the catalyst behind the move.
89' Well England had pushed high in search of the equalizer and were looking dangerous, but of course that left them exposed to the Belgian counter attack, from which Belgium finally managed to score. England have really had nothing since then.
85' Hazard and De Bruyne nearly in again. Hazard bursts forward drawing defenders before passing it ahead to De Bruyne around the edge of the box. But his shot is blocked.
82' Goal Hazard!!! It has been coming. De Bruyne rushes forward, drawing in 3 or 4 defenders, passed it to Hazard, who works a one and one situation with the keeper and drives past Pickford with ease. De Bruyne and Hazard... just too much for England today and it seemed inevitable that Hazard would finally get his name on the scoreboard.
80' Yet another Belgian counter attack as England are caught high up the pitch. Hazard to Mertens who plays one in the air over to Meunier on right, Meunier's volley is beautifully struck and on targer, but saved by Pickford.
78' Dier with a beatiful dink into box with the outside of this boot for Loftus Cheek, but he's intercepted before he can do anything with it.
75' Belgian work a counter attack through De Bruyne, who passes to Mertens, but Mertens makes an absolute hames of his shot and it's about 10 or 15 yards wide.
74' Set piece expert Trippier delivers yet another great ball into the box from a free kick. Maguire is the first to it but his header is wide. Another chance goes a begging for England.
72' England are piling on the pressure, they have been so much better in this second half. But Belgium have handled everything that has been thrown at them.
70' Dier somehow found himself in space in the box and one and one with the keeper, he tried to dink it over the keeper and succeeded but Alderwiereld rushed over to clear it off the line. So close for England!
66' Loftus Cheek puts in a lovely one into the box from the right, but a slight deflection off the leg of an Belgian defender puts it out of the path of Kane.
65' Kane completely scuffs a half volley at the edge of the box. He's been very poor today and it's another shot off target for the English captain.
62' Hazard does well to find space behind the defence and take down the long ball played out from Belgium's half, he passes it forward for the overlapping Meunier but he's tackled before he get his shot off from 10 yards out on the right. Nothing happens from the resulting corner.
60' Lukaku is leaving the field for Mertens, ending his chances for the Golden Boot.
57' De Bruyne plays a beautiful through ball to Lukaku in the box, but he puts a bit too much on his first touch and Pickford beats him to the second touch. What a pass from De Bruyne though, world class.
55' Trippier takes a throw towards Lingard in the box who volleys a pass toward Kane in the six yard area, but an over -tretching Kane can't get on the end of it. But England look much more capable of scoring now.
54' England have come out with more intent in this second half. This is much better from Southgate's men.
51' Trippier puts in a great cross from a free kick, and but Aldeweireld is first to it and heads it over the bar.
49' Hazard with some impressive play again. He pushes forward about 35 yards, dribbling past 2 England players with ease. But after all his hard work, he is tackled by Delph in the box as he tried to hold it up to get a pass off to Lukaku.
47' Loftus Cheek works the opening chance of the second half. He takes on two Belgian defenders in the box and has his shot blocked. He has been one of England's best performers so far this afternnon.
46' The second kicks off. Lingard and Rashford are coming on for Sterling and Rose
Bamidele Isaac on Twitter makes an interesting point: "Don’t think Belgium players are really willing to let Lukaku edge Kane to the golden boot. Hazard/KDB/Muenier/Chadli have all deprived him of some final passes"
England have enjoyed the majority of possession but really have done nothing to trouble Courtois. Belgian, on the other hand, have looked dangerous every time they've won back possession and pushed forward, and could be 2 or 3 up at this point. England's best hope of an equalizer will come from Sterling, whether he makes the goal or scores it. Kane, meanwhile, has not featured in this game, apart from one well-struck shot in the 23rd mintue that just drifted wide. That was probably England's second best chance after Loftus Cheek's earlier header. But at the moment, it's hard to see anything but a Belgian victory on the cards here. Their big players are all up for the occassion and displaying their dominance.
46' A long ball picks out Lukaku, who is now one on one with Stones. Stones does well not to let him past, standing up well to the Belgian and blocking his shot. And that's the last action of the first half.
45' Beatifully timed pass to De Bruyne in the box. He shoots and his shot is blocked. Lukaku is furious as he was looking for a pass and was completely unmarked in the penalty area. A squared pass to Lukaku and it was a certain goal.
42' Sterling has looked spritely and has been involved in almost every English attack. Harry Kane has barely feature. England will need their captain to get more involved here if they are going to find an equalizer.
40' Chadli left the field a couple of minutes ago with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Vermaelen
39' Belgium have a dangerous counter attack again. Meunier plays it to De Bruyne who puts in a cross but it's cleared for a corner, from which nothing results and England are again in possession and working it forward.
35' Hazard has been on fine form, so far. He's going be a thorn in England's side for the rest of the game it seems, as he has been hitherto.
34' Hazard dribbles into the box, gets a shot off and it's blocked. Corner.
32' England still in possession, patiently passing it around, and Belgium seem happy to let them have it, so long as they do nothing with it. They are very much in control here, Lukaku et al.
26' England have had twice as much possesion as Belgium at this point, but Belgium still look the better side. Experience so far outplaying youth.
23' After a string of 20 or so passes around the center of the field, a long ball is played in for Sterling in the box, who does well to take it down under pressure and squares it to Kane, but Kane's shot drifts wide of the post. He's still looking for his first shot on target in over four hours of football
19' Loftus Cheek does very well to beat to defenders in the box and pass it back before the ball ran over the line. It ends in a a corner. Maguire gets a head to the cross from the corner, but it's straight at Courtois.
18' England display some great passing and movement to work it into the Belgian box. But they are drowned out and can't get a shot off.
15' 17' A real chance for England. Loftus Cheek gets his head on the end of a well-timed cross, but it's saved by Courtois. Best chance England have had so far.
14' 15' Delph tries a shot from about 25 yards out. But he'll have to do much better to trouble Courtois.
12' Belgium really showing their class here. It could have easily been 2-0, but De Bruyne's attempt to finish off a great Belgian move is blocked and England can breathe again.
10' Trippier cross into the box from a free kick is poor and ends up in the hands of Courtois. Disappointing for England who have been lethal from set pieces so far in this tournament. You would have expected him to as least find a red shirt.
8' England are intercepted and a dangerous counter attack involving De Bruyne amd Lukaku materializes. But the English defence clears up the danger.
7' England look to hit back quickly. Philk Jones puts a long ball into the box but its cleared away. England now back in possesion and working it forward from the back.
4' And it's a goal for Belgium!! Chadli finds himself on the end of through ball from Lukaku which tears open the English defence. Chadli puts in a cross low from the edge of a box for Muenier who beats the English defenders to the ball and slots one past Pickford.
3' A measured start here for England, who are passing it around as they look to move forward. A long ball in towards the box has resulted in possession returning to Belgium. Kick out from Courtouis ends up in the hands of his opposite number.
A full house here in St Petersburg. And we're off. Belgium, in yellow, kick off. England are in red.
With 19 and of 22 starters plying their trade in England, this is really like a Best of the Premier League exhibition game.
And God Save the Queen plays for the eighth and final time in Russia.
And the Belgium anthem rings through the stadium:
These two have met three times in the WC: 1954 (4-4); 1990 (1-0, England); 2018 (1-0, Belgium), so the teams are level pegging on 1 win each and a draw
Golden Boot Contenders Kane and Lukaku, head to head. Kane has not had a shot on target in his last four hours and 33 minutes of action at the World Cup.
Seem like some optimistic Isreal fans were confident that their team would reach the WC and go all the way to the semi final. Unfortunately neither happened, but surely they will enjoy the spectacle.
Former Man U teammates Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj fool about before the game. Neither player starts but both are likely to come off the bench. Januzaj scored the goal that gave his team their first win over England in 82 years, in the group game a few weeks ago.
Belgian and England players sharing some friendly banter ahead of the game. Eight of Belgium's starting 11 ply their trade in England, so the players know each other well. They are: Courtouis (Chelsea), Alderweireld (Spurs), Kompany (Man City), Vertonghen (Spurs), Chadli (West Brom), De Bruyne (Man City), Lukaku (Man Utd), Hazard (Chelsea)
Belgian Starting XI: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Meunier, Tielemns, Witsel, Chadli, De Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard
England teamsheet is in: Pickford, Rose, Dier, Stones, Maguire, Kane, Sterling, Trippier, Jones, Delph, Loftus-Cheek
One of the big battles today: These two will have their eyes on the Golden Boot. Kane has 6 goals, Lukaku has 4. So the latter would need to net a hat trick to win the trophy outright. Unlikely, but you try telling that to Man U striker.
Hello and welcome to AS' live coverage of the buildup to the bronze medal game between England and Belgium. It's hard to believe the World Cup is coming to an end. Monday, the post-World Cup blues will kick in, but not before two big clashes today and tomorrow.
Belgium v England match preview:
For the first time since 2002, two teams face each other twice at the same tournament, with Belgium taking on England for the bronze medal. And while the game may have an exhibition feel, both teams will want to end the tournament on a high, so we can expect to see two lineups more resembling the first-choice team than when the teams met in the group stages more than two weeks ago.
Belgium were the victors that day, recording their first win over the Three Lions in 82 years, and only the second in their history. Having come back from a 2-0 deficit against Japan in the last 16 to win 3-2 and beating Brazil 2-1 in the quarter finals, the Red Devils arguably had a more difficult road than England to the semifinal, in which they lost to France 1-0.
The so-called 'Golden Generation' of Belgian football have been deemed world beaters for a while now, and will be gutted to have let the opportunity slip to reach the final. But Roberto Martinez will look to pick his players up for today’s clash, as they will no doubt be aware that a win today against England would give Belgium their best ever World Cup finish, surpassing the achievement of 1986 when they finished fourth.
England also have something to play for after their heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the semifinal, and could record their best finish since 1966, when they won the tournament. This is one of the youngest ever England teams at a World Cup and the future looks bright for Gareth Southgate’s men. This young and relatively inexperienced team have helped to restore a level of pride and optimism amongst supporters that have hasn’t been felt in years, and win or lose today, they will no doubt be going home to a hero’s welcome.
There may be one trophy on the England flight home however: with six goals Harry Kane is ahead in the race for the Golden Boot and, if he wins it, would be the first Englishman to do so since Gary Lineker in 1986. His closest contender for the prize is his opponent today, Roman Lukaku, who has four goals and will be looking to add an unlikely three goals to his tally to steal the Boot from under the nose of the Tottenham player.