Belgium claim World cup 2018 bronze medal
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
England missed the chance to finish with a flourish as Belgium ran o
ut convincing 2-0 winners in the World Cup third-place play-off in Saint Petersburg.
As predicted in our preview, Belgium had better chance and they proved that. Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard combined to secure Belgium’s best performance at a World Cup as they edged England 2-0 in the third-place play-off in St Petersburg on Saturday. Having fallen one match shy of a maiden final appearance in Tuesday’s slim 1-0 defeat to France, the Red Devils’ vaunted golden generation lifted themselves off the canvass to improve upon the fourth-place finish managed by Enzo Scifo and company in 1986.
England dominated possession(58%) but and also created more chances with 15 shots, 6 of them hitting the target, but poor finishing meant they didn’t pose any threat to Courtois. While Belgium surely made their chances count with 12 shots, hitting 4 on target and converting 2 of them into goals.
4: GOOOOAL! 1-0! Belgium make a flying start to the game! England leave too much room for Chadli on the left side, who whips a low cross into the middle where Meunier pokes home.
12: SAVE! England are all over the place in defence as Lukaku’s poor pass somehow bobbles through to De Bruyne, who sees his shot at goal deflected and then saved by Pickford.
23: MISS! Sterling brings a long ball down superbly before teeing the ball across to Kane, who lashes a shot off target.
45: Southgate makes two changes at the break, the first of which sees Lingard replace Rose.
45: Sterling is also taken off and replaced by Rashford.
52: Stones earns the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Hazard to deny a Belgium counter-attack.
60: Belgium make a second change and it is good news for Kane’s pursuit of the golden boot. Lukaku, second in the standings with four, is replaced by Mertens.
73: CHANCE! Dier has another chance! Trippier clips a pass over the defence to Lingard, who crosses into the midfielder in the middle but he heads wide of the mark.
80: GREAT SAVE! Pickford keeps England in the game! Belgium hit on the counter once again and their move is sublime. De Bruyne tees a ball through to Hazard, who’s first-time cross is volleyed by Meunier and forces Pickford to make a stunning stop.
82: GOAL! 2-0! Game over! More superb build-up play from Belgium finishes with De Bruyne playing a perfectly-weighted pass through to Hazard, who surges into the box and drills into the bottom left-hand corner.
84: England make their final change of the World Cup, replacing Loftus-Cheek with Alli.
92: Witsel picks up a very late yellow card for a clumsy challenge.
Eden Hazard (***): Roberto Martínez said on Friday that you can build a ‘winning project’ around Hazard and he vindicated that today. So sharp over the first five yards and always seems to make the right pass.
Kieran Trippier (**): Was probably England’s most impressive player again. A dangerous outlet on the right flank throughout and put in some wicked crosses from set pieces.
Player Ratings (***- Exceeded Expectation, ** – Met Expectation, * – Didn’t meet the expectation):
Outstanding Player: Kevin De Bruyne
A joyful player who relished the freedom afforded by a fixture of this nature. Passed the ball with fluency, range and intent, dominating the centre of the park. Set up Hazard’s goal with a trademark weighted pass and left Dier red-faced with another threaded through his legs.
Belgium: Belgium sat in their own half to block potential passes further forward after their first goal and looked comfortable defending deep and break forward on counter. By the beautiful team play, Belgium claim world cup 2018 bronze medal.
England: England had the lion’s share of possession and remained short of ideas for most part of the game. The lack of creativity is certainly an issue for Southgate to solve after the World Cup.
Viewer Rating: **
Thomas Meunier’s very early goal and Eden Hazard’s fine finish hand Belgium third place at the 2018 World Cup, securing their best ever finish at the tournament. England, just like in 1990, finish fourth and were far from their best today. Eric Dier came the closest after seeing a cheeky attempt cleared off the line by Tottenham team-mate Toby Alderweireld but the Three Lions will feel they should have created more.
Match Implication: Both sides will return home from Russia with their heads held high after some memorable performances and will believe it presents the opportunity to build upon ahead of the next World Cup in Qatar. Attentions will now turn towards pre-season at club level, before the national sides reassemble in September.