St. Petersburg: Thomas Meunier’s early goal gave Belgium an upper hand in the third-place playoff to finally defeated England in St. Petersburg and earn the third place in the FIFA rankings.
Belgium defeated England by two goals to none.
Belgium made a flying start as Midfielder Meunier’s scored a goal in the fourth minute.
The goal was possible as England left much room for Belgium’s Nacer Chadli, who whipped a low cross into the middle and it is here when Meunier seized the opportunity.
Meunier’s goal was the earliest ever scored by a Belgian player at the world cup. Interestingly it was the first time ever for England to concede a goal so early on in a match.
In the 39th minute, Chadli picks up a knock and was replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.
Belgium has the record of never losing a match when leading at halftime, since a 2-5 defeat to Germany in 1934. Belgium since then won eight matches while drawing only four.
In a bid to make a difference, post half-time, England made two changes in the 46th minute, wherein Marcus Rashford replaced Raheem Sterling. Also, Jesse Lingard replaced Danny Rose.
In the 52nd minute, John Stones of England received a yellow card for committing a foul on Belgium’s Eden Hazard.
In the 60th minute, Belgium made their second change, wherein Dries Mertens replaced Romelu Lukaku.
Uptill the 70th minute, England’s Eric Dier had two shots directed towards the goal but to no avail. The shots came at a gap of two minutes. Even England’s Kieran Trippier seven attempts yielded no favourable results.
The match turned interesting as England received yet another yellow card in the 76th minute, when Harry Maguire tried to protest a decision taken by the referee.
Belgium made their third and final change wherein Mousa Dembele replaced Youri Tielemans.
In the 82nd minute, Belgium scored another goal, with England still failing to score any.
As Kevin De Bruyne executed a brilliant pass to midfielder Eden Hazard who dashed towards the box and took a shot towards the bottom left-hand corner.
Eden Hazard is one such player who has been involved directly in scoring 25 goals for Belgium. Out of the 25, 12 were direct goals and 13 of them were assists.
In utter desperation in England made their change wherein Dele Alli replaced Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the 84th minute but to no avail.
Despite winning the match, Belgium’s Axel Witsel received a yellow card in three minutes past the full time.
England and Belgium faced each other for the second time in this edition, after their match in the group stages.
Belgium had defeated England in the group stage match by one goal to none. (ANI)