World Cup 2018: Meunier and Hazard guide Belgium to a third place finish

The Red Devils brushed aside the English challenge for the second time in the World Cup…

Belgium defeated England 2-0 on Saturday at the St. Petersburg stadium to secure a third-place finish at the World Cup. Full-back Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard scored the goals as the Red Devils defeated England for a second time in the tournament. 

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez made two changes to the side that lost to France in the semi-final. with Meunier returning from suspension and Tielemans taking a spot in the midfield. Marouane Fellaini and Moussa Dembele dropped out as a result.

England and Gareth Southgate, on the other hand, made five changes following the defeat to Croatia. In came Phil Jones, Eric Dier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Fabian Delph and Danny Rose. Kyle Walker, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli were the players who dropped to the bench. Harry Kane led the lines alongside Sterling.

It was a disastrous start for the Three Lions though when Thomas Meunier managed to get ahead of Danny Rose to slot in Nacer Chadli's cross. Much can be analysed about the sloppy finish with the ball finding the net off the PSG man’s knee but Rose should never have let Meunier get across him so easily. 

The game maintained an open-ended feel to itself as Hazard and De Bruyne repeatedly found the holes in England’s midfield. Yet, a combination of sloppy passing and poor finishing kept the score-line intact. 

Harry Kane was particularly off colour and he was guilty of shooting wide from an inviting position on the edge of the box where he should at least have hit the target. Belgium sat back in the latter stages of the half and invited a clueless England forward.

England Belgium

The second half began with England on the front foot after a few substitutions. Lingard, one of them, fizzled a volley across the Belgian box but Kane was inches away from getting a telling touch on the ball. 

England were reliant on their wings throughout the game but were able to fashion a good chance once through the middle. Eric Deir was sent through on goal but his cute chip was cleared out by Alderweireld. 

The finishing was poor on the day with a number of clear-cut chances missed by both teams. 

However, Hazard ended the tie with a mazy run before nestling the ball in the bottom corner of the right hand side of Pickford’s goal. Phil Jones should’ve done better though as his positioning was poor and Hazard took full toll. 

The game had a series of sloppy touches and misplaced passes and won’t certainly be remembered as a classic. Belgians coasted home, thanks to England’s inability to finish their clear-cut chances.

As England limped home in fourth place, Belgium celebrated a worthy third-placed finish at the 2018 World Cup.

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