With qualification in the bag, England and Belgium made wholesale changes to their respective starting XIs for their final 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G tie and it would be former Premier League star Adnan Januzaj who would be the difference with a fine strike that proved to be solitary goal.

The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, among many others, were benched as their managers sought to give them a break and perhaps, avoid facing Brazil in a prospective quarter-final.

So despite the quality taking a marked dip, the intensity was very much of a competitive fixture for all 22 players wanted to win, and perhaps the Belgian Red Devils’ superior depth proved telling on the day.

After a goalless and rather pedestrian opening 45 minutes, Januzaj, formerly of Manchester United, would sell Danny Rose a dummy before cutting in and curling one past the despairing dive of Jordan Pickford in the 52nd minute.

England responded by sending their big guns on, but Kane and Co could do little to prevent their first defeat in recent memory.

The Red Devils may have the tougher route to the final, but they will approach the knockouts flush with confidence after winning all three of their group-stage games.

In the other Group G tie on the night, Tunisia edged Panama 2-1 to finish third.

Only Uruguay and Croatia have managed to secure maximum points in the group-stages so far.

For England, this was a sobering reminder that they still need to do a lot more if they are to ‘bring it home’, despite the fact that they benched most of their big names.

While Roberto Martinez’s men take on Japan in the last-16 now, England face Colombia.

Leave a Reply