World Cup 2018: Belgium beat England to top Group G, Tunisia thump Panama

first_imgBelgium registered their third successive win in the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Thursday as they beat England 1-0 to finish on top of Group G before heading into the round of 16. Both teams had already qualified for the next round before this game.Adnan Januzaj’s stunning strike in the 51st minute separated the two sides till the final whistle. The former Manchester United player’s goal was his first in nine matches for the Red Devils.Belgium’s win saw them clinch the top spot in their group with 9 points in three games followed by England with 6.FIFA World Cup 2018, Highlights: England 0-1 Belgium | Panama 1-2 TunisiaThe defeat was England’s first in 13 international matches. This is also the first instance in 15 appearances in a World Cup that England have failed to keep a clean sheet in the first round group stages.Lots of changes. Fewer chances.#BEL finish top & face #JPN on Monday.#COL await #ENG on Tuesday.#ENGBEL pic.twitter.com/773rbZVpGaFIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018Belgium, who had made 10 changes in their starting XI in this game, will now face Japan in the next round while England, who had made 8 changes in their lineup, will take on Colombia.Confirmation, in case it’s needed.The 2018 #WorldCup group phase…….is complete. pic.twitter.com/DFOGEQknnMFIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018All the pre-match talk had been about whether second place might offer an easier path to the semi-finals, given that the group winners could face Brazil in the last eight.advertisementFIFA World Cup 2018: Full CoverageIf that was a consideration then Gareth Southgate’s England side can take some consolation from the defeat given that it offers a potential quarter-final against Sweden or Switzerland rather than Brazil or Mexico, who could await Belgium.There is, though, something presumptuous about such talk and Colombia, a team with plenty of talent, certainly won’t appreciate being considered part of an ‘easier path’ to the quarter-finals.But when Belgium and England next enter the field, in the last 16, the team lineups will bear little resemblance to those fielded on Thursday to complete the group stage.As expected both managers utilised their squads to the full — Belgium’s Roberto Martinez switching nine players and Southgate bringing in eight from his reserves, a decision he had described as a ‘no brainer’ in the circumstances.Belgium created the better openings in a poor first half while England showed greater urgency but a lack of finesse in the final third.Former Manchester United midfielder Januzaj broke the deadlock with a superb curling effort in the 51st minute and the manner of the goal celebration should have silenced any fears that Martinez’s side were not interested in victory.England then pushed on looking for an equaliser but, without their rested talisman Harry Kane they lacked a cutting edge.The second game in Group G saw Tunisia sign off their campaign with a 2-1 win against Panama in Saransk.Neatly-taken second-half goals by Fakhreddine Ben Yousseff and Wahbi Khazri gave Tunisia a 2-1 victory over Panama and secured the North Africans their first World Cup finals win in 40 years.Deserved win and first three points for #TUN in Saransk.#PANTUN pic.twitter.com/Y2sSzda6iCFIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018The two teams had already been eliminated from the tournament before the match started, both having lost to England and Belgium.But they played for pride in a spirited duel and the fervour of the more than 37,000 fans in the Mordovia Arena belied the notion that this was a pointless match between to two lowly nations.A #WorldCup milestone!#PANTUN pic.twitter.com/P8miUAkWRyFIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018The North Africans, making their fifth appearance in the World Cup finals, had not won a game since beating Mexico in Argentina in 1978 to become the first African country to win a match at the tournament.Panama were making their debut and will go home disappointed, having declared their dream of making history by taking at least a point.(With Reuters inputs)last_img read more