After losing 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-finals, England played Belgium, who lost 1-0 to France, in the Third Place Play-off.

The last time England played in the third place play-off was in the Italia 1990 World Cup after losing to West Germany in the semi-finals. However, England lost to the hosts, Italy 2-1 after a lacklustre performance by the Three Lions.  

Belgium’s highest previous finish was 4th in the Mexico 1986 Third Place Play-Off after losing 4-2 to France after extra time.

This is the second time Belgium and England face each other in this World Cup after both teams already qualified, rested their star players with Adnan Januzaj’s goal giving Belgium the win.

Belgium started their strongest starting XI with Thomas Meunier coming back from suspension while England started Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Dele Alli, Fabian Delph for Jesse Lingard, Eric Dier for Jordan Henderson and Danny Rose for Ashley Young at left wing-back.

From a clearance by Belgium’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Belgium launched a counter-attack which allowed Romelu Lukaku to pass it wide to Nacer Chadli and cross it into the box for Thomas Meunier to score.

Already in the 4th minute, England was behind.

England could have equalised in the 23rd minute after Raheem Sterling laid it off for Harry Kane to shoot but he slipped to shoot wide.

Seems like a training set play from a corner, Kevin De Bruyne passed it to Youri Tielemans outside of the box, but his mishit allowed Jan Vertonghen’s shot to go narrowly above the bar.

England went close to equalise in the 70th minute when Marcus Rashford sent Eric Dier goal side but his chip over Thibaut Courtois was saved off the line by Toby Alderweireld.

Belgium led another counter-attack in the 80th minute after an amazing team build-up that allowed Thomas Meunier to volley but was saved by Jordan Pickford.

However, two minutes later Eden Hazard doubled Belgium’s lead after Kevin De Bruyne’s pass dazzled John Stones to allow Hazard to score.

The game ended 2-0 for Belgium to finish 3rd in the 2018 World Cup.

Source of Image: BBC

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