Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Top of the group, or second

ENGLAND WAGS SPLASH NEWS GLAMOUR The stunning partners posed outside a swish Japanese restaurant
Tamara Craig | 30 June, 2018, 18:36

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The 32-year-old sees no reason the loss against Belgium, in which England captain Harry Kane was left on the bench, should put the Three Lions off course.

"Tonight was a good test for us, but we had half an eye on the knockout stages".

"But we also have some really good players who are full of belief. He had no further damage but it is still uncomfortable", Martinez told his pre-match news conference on the eve of the game.

The game wasn't as bad as Tuesday's scoreless snooze-fest between France and Denmark, but when the final whistle blew, putting an end to 90 minutes of half-hearted and aimless running, all either side could do was shrug.

"At the moment he is still in the recovery phase and had a really hard knock against Tunisia". As a reserve side Belgium were better than us and the way they attacked would have helped our defence in the long run.

Even if we made some changes Kane still should have played, he is always going to want to play and score goals. An average early cross will always do more damage than a great cross that comes in after a touch or two. We're all fighting, we're all raring to go and we're all looking forward to the next game'.

It was the game, and group, that no one wanted to win.

"There are players on yellow cards".

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I said before the game that I didn't agree with making so many changes even despite the reports that Belgium were going to do so as well. We're England and we want to win every game possible and now everyone's disappointed we didn't want and that's the main thing.

Southgate labelled the Colombia match England's "biggest game for a decade", so was comfortable defending himself when asked if he had a responsibility to fans and the tournament to have winning matches as his top priority.

While Matinez's idea about resting players certainly makes sense, there is risk in halting the momentum of a player like Lukaku, who has been in irresistible goal-scoring form in Russian Federation.

By winning the match and thus the group, Belgium moves to the "side of death" for the knockout round, where four of the top five teams in the world according to Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings - Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, and Argentina - will all compete for one spot in the final.

"It brought a lot of pain to Belgium people and fans". "This is a different game".

The Belgians came out winners in more ways than one.

Rashford squandered a glorious chance to level with an hour played, being denied by the fingertips of Thibaut Courtois - one of only two survivors for much-changed Belgium from their last outing - when played clean through on goal.

There was something a touch Romantic about the way Germany were knocked out of the World Cup as Gareth Southgate simultaneously addressed the world knowing England are already through to the last 16, regardless of the result against Belgium.

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