Kaliningrad: Belgium brushed aside England 1-0 in their Group G encounter to take the top spot in the ongoing 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup at Kaliningrad Stadium here on Thursday (local time).
Both Belgium and England, who already qualified to the round of 16 prior to this game, needed a win to top the group table.
Right from the beginning, Belgium played attacking football, targeting for the net to gain an early advantage.
England’s defence came under pressure as the defenders and midfielders repeatedly thwarted Belgium’s chances of gaining an upper hand in the match.
However, in the first 10 minutes, Belgium made two attempts to score a goal.
In the 6th minute, Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans almost found the net but was spectacularly saved by English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
In the 10th minute, striker Michy Batshuayi, helped by a pass almost scored a goal. However, the ball was blocked by English defender Gary Cahill.
Thereafter, England pulled up its socks on seeing Belgium being charged up and both teams played attacking football in the remaining first half.
In the second half, Belgium once again surprised England with its attacking prowess on the field.
The deadlock was finally broken after Belgian midfielder Adnan Januzaj played a brilliant shot outside the penalty area, via a pass by Tielemans, to give his team the first goal in the 51st minute.
In the 66th minute, England nearly scored an equaliser when forward Marcus Rashford played a fantastic straight shot, only to be blocked by Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
England tried hard to score an equaliser, but the Belgian players were sharp and repeatedly frustrated the 1966 champions from making any strides.
With this victory, Belgium have won all their three group stage games in consecutive World Cup appearances.
They are the first nation to do so since Argentina and the Netherlands in 2010 and 2014.
Belgium topped Group G table with nine points, while England finished second with six points. Panama and Tunisia have been eliminated from this year’s FIFA World Cup respectively.
In the knockout stage, Belgium will now face Japan on July 2, while England will lock horns with Colombia on July 3. (ANI)