A fourth-minute goal from Thomas Meunier and an 82nd-minute Eden Hazard strike earned Belgium the victory and third place
Belgium beat England 2-0 in the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday to secure their best ever finish at a World Cup and send Gareth Southgate’s side home with a second straight loss.
A fourth-minute goal from Thomas Meunier and an 82nd-minute Eden Hazard strike earned Belgium the victory and third place, which improved on their previous best performance of fourth in 1986.
“It’s all about that achievement. I think these players deserve that,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.
“What we have seen in this World Cup is that the players did not want to rely on talent anymore, they wanted to rely on working as a team, becoming a group of players that would do anything to achieve results”.
England were on top for most of the second half but with captain Harry Kane looking tired, Belgium’s greater sharpness in the final third proved decisive.
“This game showed there is still room for improvement,” said Kane.
“We’re not the finished article, we’re still improving and will only get better. We don’t want to wait another 20 years to get into the semi-finals and the big matches. We need to improve, we need to get better but that will come,” he said.
Belgium were handed bronze medals but skipper Vincent Kompany wondered if his team should have had a better ending to the tournament.
“We were very close to the final, which I think we would have won. But this is also beautiful. A present for our fans. We played seven matches and won six,” he said.
France will face Croatia in Sunday’s final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.