• Thursday, Oct 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:45 am

Belgium edge England to top Group G

  • Published at 02:12 am June 29th, 2018
  • Last updated at 06:39 am June 29th, 2018
England's Jordan Pickford fails to stop a shot from Belgium's Adnan Januzaj hitting the back of the net during their World Cup Group G match in Kaliningrad Thursday Reuters

Belgium finished as Group G winner after edging England 1-0 in both the sides’ final 2018 Fifa World Cup first round match in Russia Thursday.

Adnan Januzaj netted the all-important goal early in the second half as Belgium set up a last 16 clash against Japan.

The Three Lions will face Colombia in the Round of 16.

Both the teams, who had already qualified for the last 16, made several changes to their starting line-up.

The Three Lions made eight changes as only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, defender John Stones and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek retained their places.

Similarly, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez kept his promise by resting the majority of his regular starting XI players.

Only goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Dedryck Boyata were retained as Martinez deployed a 3-4-3 formation.

England manager Gareth Southgate on the other hand used his favourite 3-5-2 formation, resting main striker Harry Kane, who already has five goals to his credit in just two matches.

In came Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy in place of Kane. 

The Red Devils followed a similar path as Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku made way for bit-part player Michy Batshuayi.

Like Kane, Lukaku is also in the running for the Golden Boot with four strikes in two games.

It eventually turned into a battle of the benches between the two teams. 

As many as 15 of the 22 starters ply their trade in the English Premier League.

In just the second minute of the game, the Belgians unexpectedly gave away the ball to Vardy near the penalty area but England couldn’t capitalise.

Four minutes later, Pickford produced a decent save to deny Youri Tielemans’ powerful long-range strike after midfielder Marouane Fellaini set him up outside the box. 

Despite having more possession, England had to be on their toes against the Belgium attack several times.

In the 10th minute, Pickford couldn’t quite gather a lofted pass inside the six-yard box. 

Batshuayi was lurking right in front of him and somehow poked it towards goal but Chelsea’s Gary Cahill came to the rescue for the Three Lions with a last-ditch clearance on the goalline.

Four minutes later, Liverpool youngster Trent Alexander Arnold sent a delightful cross from the right wing for Vardy.

Vardy though headed the ball wide of the far post.

Belgium then tried to take control of the game with more possession, passing the ball between themselves for a while that not only frustrated the men in white but pleased the Belgian fans inside the stadium. 

Belgium once again came close to breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute but Batshuayi’s shot from a promising attack was deflected for a corner by Stones.

The remainder of the first half saw both the teams cancel each other out, albeit without troubling either of the goalkeepers.

However, just after resumption in the 51st minute, Adnan Januzaj made it 1-0 for Belgium.

Receiving a pass from Tielemans inside the box on the right side, Januzaj had some breathing space in front of a casual Danny Rose. 

Januzaj cut onto his favourite left foot and unleashed a scintillating curling shot past the outstretched hands of Pickford.

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