Hazard and Belgium too good for England in World Cup play-off

Belgium achieved their best World Cup finish as goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard secured a 2-0 victory over England in Saturday’s third-place playoff in Saint Petersburg.

Meunier, who missed the semi-final loss to France due to suspension, scored after just four minutes before Hazard grabbed a late second as Belgium eclipsed the side that came fourth at the 1986 edition.

Belgium have now defeated England twice in a fortnight, having waited 82 years to beat them before winning 1-0 in their group stage encounter.

Gareth Southgate’s men were forced to settle for England’s joint best performance at a World Cup abroad, matching that of the 1990 generation.

He made five changes to the team beaten 2-1 by Croatia in the last four, as England fielded their youngest World Cup line-up in history — with an average age of 25 years and 174 days.

Belgium’s team pose with their medals after winning their Russia 2018 World Cup play-off for third place football match between Belgium and England at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg.

Phil Jones, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all came into the side, while Belgium boss Roberto Martinez recalled Meunier and handed a start to Youri Tielemans.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Meunier made a quick impression by firing Belgium in front following an attack started by Romelu Lukaku.

The Manchester United forward released Nacer Chadli down the right into space behind the England defence, and his cross was turned home by Meunier who stepped in front of a static Rose.

Jordan Pickford readjusted his body superbly to deny Kevin De Bruyne a second time, the Everton goalkeeper clawing away the ball after a sizeable deflection off Kieran Trippier.

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