Januzaj magic lights up drab affair

Belgium progressed to the World Cup round of 16 as Group G winners after they edged runners-up England 1-0 at the Kaliningrad Stadium on Thursday.

  • England 0 Belgium 1
  • Pickford denies Tielemans early on
  • Cahill clears Batshuayi effort off the line
  • Januzaj (51′) nets superb opener
  • Rashford shot tipped behind by Courtois

Match Summary

The game was disappointing for the most part, but the better team came out on top in the end, with the Red Devils making it three wins from three.

Gareth Southgate’s side managed just two attempts on target, as Adnan Januzaj settled the encounter with a quality goal early in the second half.

Full Report

There were wholesale changes on both sides, with eight for England and nine in the Belgium team, and it showed on the pitch.

The first half was a poor spectacle of football, as neither outfit looked bothered to go for the three points that would ensure top spot in Group G.

The Red Devils created the best chances, with Jordan Pickford having to punch away Youri Tielemans’ swerving shot from 22 yards out in the sixth minute, before the Three Lions survived a major scare on 10 minutes.

Januzaj’s cross from the right was head down by Marouane Fellaini for Michy Batshuayi, whose stabbed effort was fumbled by Pickford and Gary Cahill hacked the ball off the line.

The response from the English saw Trent Alexander-Arnold deliver a fine first-cross from the right that Jamie Vardy met in the 14th minute, but the striker’s header went well wide of the left post.

Alexander-Arnold then almost caught out Thibaut Courtois on 31 minutes with a cross-shot that curled just wide of the far post, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek steered a downward header past the near post from a 34th-minute corner on the left.

Thorgan Hazard blazed a shot high over the crossbar from outside the box after Batshuayi laid the ball off for him on 38 minutes, but Januzaj lit up the dull affair with an exquisite opener six minutes into the second half.

The winger collected Tielemans’ pass on the right and shaped to shoot before shifting the ball past Danny Rose to send a curler into the top-left corner of the net from 16 yards out.

England managed their first attempt on target in the 66th minute when Vardy put Rashford clean through on goal, but Courtois got a vital touch on the striker’s curling shot to take it beyond the right post.

Fabian Delph had a rush of blood moments later as he lashed an effort well wide of the left post from distance, which just about summed up the Three Lions’ night.

Rashford had another go in the 81st minute from a 25-yard free-kick on the right that he curled over the bar, before substitute Danny Welbeck saw his goal-bound strike from inside the area blocked by the long leg of Marouane Fellaini.

Pickford was called into action in the final minute as he parried away a fierce first-time shot from substitute Dries Mertens, and Fellaini could only hit the side-netting from six yards out on the left in stoppage time after being slipped in by Thorgan Hazard.

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