Match report: England 0 Belgium 1

England have finished second in World Cup Group G after a 1-0 defeat to Belgium in Kaliningrad. Gareth Southgate's team will play Colombia in the last 16 on Tuesday in Moscow.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th June 2018, 9:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 6:17 pm
Marcus Rashford takes on Dedryk Boyata
Marcus Rashford takes on Dedryk Boyata

Adnan Januzaj scored the only goal of a dull affair as Gareth Southgate tasted defeat for the first time in 12 months.

Southgate said: "We are not happy to be beaten but we had double objectives tonight. The knockout game is the biggest game for a decade for us."

If his team can make it past Colombia, then Switzerland or Sweden may lie in wait.

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Southgate made eight changes, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, defender John Stones and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek were the three men retained - despite the latter being on a yellow card.There was a first competitive cap at right-wing back for Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Marcus Rashford was given the chance to impress as he took Raheem Sterling's place in the supporting forward role.

England broke the Belgium line in just the second minute, Vardy racing past a static Thomas Vermaelen to collect a loose back pass in the right channel.He pulled the ball back across goal towards Rashford but Courtois cleared with his feet and Fabian Delph was unable to get a shot away from the edge of the area.

Belgium started the game at a gentler pace but worked Pickford in the sixth minute after England's back three stood off Youri Tielemans.The Monaco forward took aim from more than 20 yards but the Everton goalkeeper threw himself up and back to parry the shot and prevent it creeping under the crossbar.They pressed forward again and when Marouane Fellaini's head was touched goalwards by Michy Batshuayi, Pickford dropped to his knees to gather.Somehow the ball slipped from his grasp and took a touch back towards goal before Cahill hooked it off the line.

Vardy glanced a header wide after Alexander-Arnold sprinted down the wing and hooked a first-time cross into the Leicester striker's path.There was an unusual interest in the referee's book too, given the possibility of disciplinary points splitting the sides and determining the group winners.Fellaini earned a warning from Damir Skomina for tripping Loftus-Cheek and Tielemans was shown a yellow card soon after for bundling Danny Rose to the floor in the 18th minute.

After a period of low-tempo football that attracted Mexican waves and frustrated whistles from the crowd, Belgium surged.Batshuayi won a corner after a well-judged Stones block and, from the set-piece, Fellaini got a low shot away.Pickford fell to his right but was spared the effort of saving when Alexander-Arnold intercepted a yard off the line.

There was little else of note as the game dawdled towards the interval.Dendoncker picked up a caution for felling Rose, one of England's livelier players on the left, leaving Belgium with three more bookings in the tournament than their opponents and heading for second place if the score remained the same.At half-time a crowd mostly filled with Russian fans who would have expected one of the best games of the group phase showed their displeasure by loudly jeering at the whistle.

England made one change at the break, Harry Maguire sent on in place of Stones - who was seen with a bandaged left calf in the England dugout as play restarted.Maguire took his place on the left of defence, with Cahill taking up the central position.

Rashford unleashed a couple of trademark dribbles into the box early in the second half but it was Belgium who opened the scoring in the 51st minute.Former Manchester United and Sunderland winger Adnan Januzaj was the scorer, cleverly fooling Rose and Delph with some swift footwork before bending a shot over Pickford and into the back of the net.

England were beginning to look a little disjointed - seemingly less able to cope with the raft of changes than their opponents.Midfield was a particular blind spot, with Delph unable to match the dynamism of Dele Alli or Jesse Lingard and Dier playing an increasingly reserved role at the base.Rashford and Vardy, meanwhile, were finding it hard to fashion any kind of understanding.

In the 66th minute the forward pair finally clicked, Vardy quickly off-loading past a flat-footed defence and putting Rashford through on goal.As he opened his body he looked certain to score, but instead bent his effort wide of the post.

England sent on Welbeck with 12 minutes to go - sacrificing Alexander-Arnold and reshuffling their defensive line.Welbeck took up position in a front three, with Dier dropping back and Jones moving to the right.Rashford was the designated taker when England won a free-kick 30 yards out but he bent an ambitious effort over the top.

Welbeck almost made an instant impact, lashing a crisp first-time shot from a half-cleared corner in the 80th minute.It looked to be heading straight into the bottom corner but Fellaini flicked out a leg and steered the shot wide.Januzaj left the field soon after, to be replaced by Dries Mertens.

England could not conjure an equaliser as the clock trickled down.