A 1-0 victory against England saw Belgium finish top of Group G at the World Cup in Russia. Already certain of qualification neither team produced the kind of exciting football that had seen both Belgium an England win both their first group stage games.
The only goal of the came from Real Sociedad’s Adnan Januzaj six minutes into the second half. However, despite the win it was an evening of mixed emotions with Belgium now pitched into the “difficult” half of the knockout draw that features Brazil, France and Argentina. Meanwhile, England struggled to contain their satisfaction with a defeat that offers them an easier path to the final.
Nevertheless, the last time this “golden generation” of Red Devils thought they had a soft draw they blew it, Coach Roberto Martinez said. So now, they are ready to face anyone providing of course they beat Japan next Monday.
Prior to the match the Belgian Coach Roberto Martinez had said that winning was not a priority. He made nine changes to his line-up. Vincent Kompany (photo above) was also on the bench and the Manchester City Captain who had been out through injury was brought in on 74 minutes.
Meanwhile, with defending champions Germany out, England’s half features only Spain among past winners.
What the papers say
The dailies ‘De Standard’ and ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ wrote that “The Red Devils showed they were sportsmanlike and ambitious and that they are afraid of no one — not even a quarter-final against Brazil.”
The Francophone daily ‘Le Soir’ expressed the thoughts of many fan watching the game at home, in a bar or on a big screen on Thursday evening.
“In a non-game that was hard to watch at times, England came out looking cynical and Belgium in the end decided not to sully their image,”
“We were just thinking of having fun”
Speaking after the game the Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans told journalists that “
Tielemans forced the England keeper Jordan Pickford into an excellent have with a long-range effort in the first half.
Speaking about Belgium’s possible opponents if they beat Japan said “All those calculations weren’t something for us but for the press. Both halves of the draw are difficult. We showed that we are very competitive across the squad. We’re all good.”