Martinez: Belgium fans deserve that winning feeling

Marcus Newton
July 15, 2018

Belgium will face England in the 2018 World Cup third-place play-off fixtures at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Thomas Meunier gave Belgium an early lead with a goal in the fourth minute.

After both were eliminated in the World Cup semi-finals, a once-in-a-lifetime chance gone, the teams have to play again in Saturday's third-place game at Saint Petersburg.

24th minute, 1-0 Belgium: England is starting to settle in, but shots by Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling sailed wide of the net.

When these two teams last met, the outcome would determine which would finish top of Group G and consequently navigate the so-called "harder" route to the final.

Kane has six goals, despite sitting out England's final group game, a 1-0 loss to Belgium.

The win sees Belgium achieve their highest ever finish at World Cup after collecting bronze. Their previous best showing was in 1986 when they finished in fourth place.

The third-place match was dropped from the European championship by UEFA following the 1980 tournament but has remained part of the World Cup calendar despite complaints.

Belgium, meanwhile, have also named a very strong team for their final game of the 2018 World Cup.

"In the second half we played really well".

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Hazard has been Belgium's main man in Russian Federation, orchestrating the attack and chipping in with three goals and two assists. To try to finish third in the World Cup doesn't happen often.

Martinez, who signed an extension until after Euro 2020 in May, can guide Belgium to the nation's best result at the World Cup.

It wasn't to be for England, as Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic ensured that Gareth Southgate's team would be playing in the match nobody wants to be a part of.

55th minute, 1-0 Belgium: Kevin De Bruyne threads a flawless pass into the box and again Romelu Lukaku's touch lets him down.

Where can you watch live streaming of FIFA World Cup 2018 match 61 between Belgium and England?

Ultimately, we saw a huge chasm of quality between Belgium and England, none more so than in midfield were Kevin De Bruyne was given so much space and time he could practically pause, sketch out his plans of attack, show it to the England players and then proceed to bring his creation to life.

Chances for Romelu Lukaku and another for Meunier came and went and England looked relieved to hear the half-time whistle, which prevented another Belgium corner. "To be able to finish third, the best finish for the Belgian national team, would be an achievement we salute more than individual awards".

Southgate responded to the deficit by introducing Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard in place of Sterling and Danny Rose at the interval.

But Belgium still posed a danger and another scintillating counterattack, arguably its best of the tournament so far, ended with Jordan Pickford producing a stunning save to deny Meunier his second.

With England pushing forward, Meunier almost produced one of the goals of the tournament, his crisp volley from a Dries Mertens cross drawing an excellent one-handed stop from Pickford.

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