Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard struck at either end of their match for Third Place with England to secure bronze at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The win is Belgium’s best-ever performance at the global football finals.
Belgium began superbly. Early pressure quickly turned into an early goal, with Meunier nipping in behind Danny Rose to tuck Nacer Chadli’s cross past Jordan Pickford.
Dominant and lively, they looked set to extend that lead until England regained their composure, dulling the incisive swipes of the Belgians’ passing as the half wore on.
Ultimately, as with the semi-final defeat by Croatia, England’s needed to score more goals from open play re-surfaced.
The Three Lions battled to create chances and the half-time introductions for Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard injected a greater threat going forward, yet near-misses from Harry Maguire, Harry Kane and Eric Dier will be rued. Though England dominated possession, the devastating nature of Belgium’s counter-attacking meant their spine was able to carve through Gareth Southgate’s side all too easily.
Gareth Southgate’s side gritted their teeth and began to dominate possession either side of half-time, probing for openings in the final third. While these were not plentiful, they looked the more likely to score, though the spectre of a Belgian counter loomed throughout.
Eric Dier saw his cute, dinked effort hooked off the line by Toby Alderweireld in their best opportunity of the day, with Hazard sealing bronze on the break. Kevin De Bruyne slipped him in superbly and the final result was never in doubt as the Belgium captain tucked away assuredly.