AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Third Place Play-off: Belgium Claim Third Spot With Win Over England
Belgium defeated England on Saturday 2-0 to finished third in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. That is the highest a Belgian side has ever finished in the competition bettering the team’s placing in 1986, when they managed fourth position. Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard scored for Belgium as they finished off a fantastic tournament. England meanwhile finish with another defeat, however they will return home to a positive reaction from the public after matching their second best effort in World Cup history with their fourth placed showing.
England v Belgium 0-2
A resilient England team lacked the decisive quality of their counterparts as Belgium won the third-place playoff 2-0. The match in Saint Petersburg began with an early goal as Thomas Meunier put the finishing touch on a lightning quick counter-attack that began with Nacer Chadli heading down for Romelu Lukaku, who played a superb ball into the path of Chadli who crossed for Meunier to meet from close range.
England were pegged back early, but they improved as time went on. By the time the second half was well and truly underway it was Gareth Southgate’s men who looked primed to equalize. The closest they came was midway through the second half when Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford player a fine give-and-go that ended with Dier producing a delicate little chip over the sprawling Thibaut Courtois. The goalbound effort was majestically cleared off the line by the recovering Toby Alderweireld.
England has possession with purpose and continued to force the initiative, producing dangerous situations if not clear-cut goalscoring chances. However, a lack of cutting edge in front of goal or just enough quality in the final ball saw Belgium ride the pressure and hit back with a second to finish off the game.
It came eight minutes from full-time when the impressive (once-again) Kevin de Bruyne played in Eden Hazard on yet another Belgian counter. The Chelsea star strode in alone on Pickford and did well to disguise his near post finish. 2-0 to Belgium the match finished. England probably deserved more for their efforts, but it would be hard to begrudge Roberto Martinez and his players this third-place finish in Russia.
GOAL OF THE DAY
Thomas Meunier’s strike in the fourth minute was a marvelous goal. The PSG man sweeping into the box to finish a swift move that saw Nacer Chadli deliver a marvelous ball for the right-back to stab past Jordan Pickford in the fourth minute.
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
The 2018 FIFA World Cup comes to a conclusion on Sunday with the Final as France and Croatia play to claim the game’s greatest prize. Well over 1 billion people across the globe are expected to tune in.
by George Tsitsonis
Image Source: Guardian.com