It had been seen as the diversion nobody needed to win but Adnan Januzaj’s fine complete i the 2nd half gave Belgium a 1-0 triumph over England to secure first posotion in Group G as the two sides rolled out wholesale changes to their lineups.
The outcome implies Belgium, who won every one of the three of their games to complete on nine points, will confront Japan in the last 16 while England, who completed second with six, go up against Colombia.
All the pre-match speak had been about whether second place may offer a easierway to the semi-finals, given that the garoup champs could confront Brazil in the last eight.
On the off chance that that was a thought then Gareth Southgate’s England side can take some reassurance from the thrashing given that it offers a potential quarter-final against Sweden or Switzerland instead of Brazil or Mexico, who could anticipate Belgium.
There is, however, something pompous about such talk and Colombia, a group with a lot of ability, absolutely won’t value being considered piece of a ‘simpler way’ to the quarter-finals.
In any case, when Belgium and England next enter the field, in the last 16, the group lineups will look to some extent like those handled on Thursday to finish the group stage.
Not surprisingly the two directors used their squads to the full – Belgium’s Roberto Martinez exchanging nine players and Southgate acquiring eight from his holds, a choice he had depicted as an ‘easy decision’ in the conditions.
Belgium made the better openings in a poor first half while England indicated more noteworthy earnestness however an absence of artfulness in the final third.
Previous Manchester United midfielder Januzaj broke the gridlock with a heavenly twisting exertion in the 51st minute and the way of the goal celebration ought to have quieted any feelings of trepidation that Martinez’s side were not keen on triumph.
Britain at that point pushed on searching for an equalizer at the same time, without their refreshed charm Harry Kane they did not have a bleeding edge.
Marcus Rashford had the most obvious opportunity yet his shot was at that point wide of the target when Thibaut Courtois got his fingertips to the ball.
Belgium approached a second goal in the last minutes when Jordan Pickford influenced a fine, jumping to spare to keep out a grating Dries Mertens effort.