Belgium overpower exhausted England to secure third place

May JohnsonJul 14, 2018

Thomas Meunier's fourth-minute opener and Eden Hazard's strike on 82 minutes sealed Belgium's second victory over Gareth Southgate's team at this World Cup and earned Roberto Martinez's men the bronze medal for finishing third.

Belgium beat England 2-0 in the third-place playoff on Saturday at St. Petersburg, surpassing the country's previous best fourth-place finish in 1986.

Meunier's early goal matched a World Cup record for Belgium by having 10 different players score in a tournament, something only done before by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

But one thing is for certain - all of these players will be back on the club treadmill before they will feel they had a chance to pause for a breath. But, for 31 of the 32 teams that qualify for the World Cup every for years, the tournament ends in disappointment, and that's especially true for the teams that lose in the semifinal. Midfielders Mousa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini make way. With numerous team's key players already on the wrong side of 30, the 2020 European Championship may be Belgium's last chance to capitalize on this golden generation of talent. This Belgian team should be proud of what it achieved in Russian Federation, but surely they will also be haunted by their inability to finish the job.

It was a marauding, devastating counter attack of the same vintage that felled Brazil in their quarter-final encounter, culminating in a pinpoint cross from Nacer Chadli converted by Thomas Meunier.

The FA has been warned over the misconduct of a group of England fans who engaged in "political chants" during the defeat to Croatia.

But England improved after the break and almost equalised when Eric Dier got clear and chipped over Thibaut Courtois, only for Toby Alderweireld to make a sliding clearance off the line.

They wanted to play the safe pass, while Belgium moved the ball from their defence to attack at a frightening pace, driven by the fantastic Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.

28' - Meunier fed a unsafe cross to the box as Pickford was off his line. "It's not something I'm really thinking about", he said.

King, Queen of Belgium, Macron to attend World Cup semi-final
But we will be ready because we have an extremely good state of mind and it is the semi-finals in the World Cup . "I like them more".

"We got back to St Petersburg at 6.30am on the day after the game, so it has been an emotion fuelled few days".

45' - Two minutes of injury time.

England's creativity issues were obscured for much of the tournament. Belgium are obviously a good team. I think they will give it to someone playing the final'. Its lone win came in the 1966 final against West Germany.

Belgium won the match with a second-half goal from Adnan Januzaj.

FINAL: France vs. Croatia in Moscow (11:00 a.m. ET) - It all comes down to this.

It was an anticlimactic way for both these teams - who have given their fans some thrilling moments in Russian Federation - to end the World Cup but Belgium leave with a deserved piece of history.

Of course, that is purely in footballing terms because, financially, Federation Internationale de Football Association will milk the World Cup cow until it is bone dry with ticket sales, sponsorship, adverts and TV revenue all being guzzled up through another fixture on the schedule.

Modern life has rendered the imagination nearly obsolete, the march of technology leaving us with little that requires a mind's eye to be seen.

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