Belgium makes history as it beats England and captures third place in 2018 World Cup

Belgium’s Eden Hazard, left, celebrates scoring their second goal with Kevin De Bruyne, centre, and Dries Mertens. Photograph: Toru Hanai/Reuters

It was a match that at times lacked effort, but two beautiful moments from Belgium gave one of the most likable teams of the tournament third place.

The third-place match is always a strange game, as it usually features two teams that have no interest in being there. At times this match felt that way, as the effort was, let’s say, uneven. Defending in midfield was at times non-existent.

Belgium to their credit played an extremely strong lineup, nearly replicating the team they’ve put out for most of the tournament. And that strong lineup caught England off guard early, when Nacer Chadli broke down the left wing and played in a cross to Thomas Meunier, who beat Danny Rose to the ball and clattered home a finish.

Form there the match settled down in a big way, though in the second half England did push forward, committing men to the box and trying to nab the equalizer. Unfortunately that opened up the field for the counter-attack, which Belgium repeatedly took advantage of, though they weren’t able to capitalize until the 82nd minute, when Eden Hazard broke through on a beautiful through ball from Kevin De Bruyne and finished hard past Jordan Pickford.

All in all a fine match between two teams that perhaps overachieved this World Cup, and ignited hope and all that other good stuff for their fanbases in the process.

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