England make five changes for final World Cup game

Jack Butland

Jack Butland

Gareth Southgate's side came close to reaching a first final since 1996 against Croatia on Wednesday night, only to be denied by a Mario Mandzukic victor in extra time.

England's midfielder Dele Alli (R) greets Belgium's defender Toby Alderweireld before their Russian Federation 2018 World Cup play-off for third place football match between Belgium and England at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on 14 July 2018. They also finished fourth in 1990 and Southgate was pleased with the way his team handled the game.

"But we have high motivation to perform, we have the chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one other England team has ever done".

It was a concern before the tournament and escalated as England advanced through the rounds but the Three Lions lack serious bite. Midfielders Mousa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini make way.

Eric Dier had England's best chance of the match on 70 minutes, when he looked set to reprise Belgium legend Philippe Albert's famous goal against Germany at the 1994 World Cup. Belgium played superbly this World Cup but unfortunately for them they came up short against an equally impressive French side.

"Yeah, it looks like it (Belgium are a cut above England)", Keane said.

Romelu Lukaku couldn't add to his four goals for Belgium and was substituted shortly after misjudging a through ball by De Bruyne.

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"And then well have to cope with this system they have developed, a 5-3-2 which is very well synchronised but I dont think there will be any surprises in this game from the game you saw in the group phase".

Never before has Belgium had such a talented group of players like this one, many of them of world-class calibre, and the overwhelming majority of them are still in the prime of their respective careers. Neither hit the target with their headers.

But even the most improved player of the tournament could do nothing to prevent Hazard scoring the killer second when Phil Jones lost him completely and the playmaker unceremoniously whacked a low drive in at the near post. The ensuing corner was a training ground play, but Alderweireld shot goes over the bar.

While the third-place playoff has come in for plenty of criticism, there's not exactly nothing to play for as Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku will view the game as a personal battle for the Golden Boot.

22nd minute, 1-0 Belgium: The Belgians still are dominating possession.

The tournament's top scorers were fluid going forward and might have been further ahead had Jordan Pickford not clawed away a deflected Kevin De Bruyne finish.

13th minute, 1-0 Belgium: Belgium is all over England right now. When you finish a tournament you carry over the feeling of the last game. In De Bruyne and Hazard, Belgium possess two established stars who ranked in the Premier League's top three players for chances created from open play last season. Typically, soccer obliged to an unfathomable extent, delivering a multitude of goalscoring records that still stand, including: highest per-game average (5.38!), highest team goal total and goal difference (Hungary, 27 and plus-17), and highest for and against total by a victor (West Germany, 25 and 14).

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