Belgium beats England 1-0, moves into tougher side of draw

England now faces Columbia in the Round of Sixteen at the Otkrytiye Arena on Tuesday, July 3 (7pm).

Of course the flip side of all this is that England haven't won a knockout game in the World Cup since 2002 so maybe we shouldn't be looking past Colombia just yet. It was disappointing to lose the game, but we have lost nothing. The thinking of finishing second to get a more accessible route to the semi-finals only works if you win the last 16 game.

As England matches go, this one will hardly live long in the memory.

"When you are leader and a manager you need to make decisions that are right for your group and sometimes those decisions will be criticised and I understand that", England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters.

The last time this "golden generation" of Red Devils thought they had a soft draw they blew it, coach Roberto Martinez said.

Belgium seemed quite happy to finish second until the goal.

"We had a choice with our friendly matches to play teams who would be a bit easier, but we deliberately chose to play against top teams because we knew it would be better challenge".

It was the first time in World Cup history that a team had been eliminated by the amount of yellow cards they had accrued in the tournament.

Poland defeated Japan 1-0 in the other group match. Then cheers from the Belgium contingent as Leander Dendoncker went into the book to make the yellow card count 5-2 for a foul on Danny Rose.

Although Belgium gets what appears to be an easier match against Japan in the round of 16, it could get trickier with a victory in Rostov-on-Don on Monday.

Neither team wanted to win the group and end up in the "bad half" of the draw. It's going to be hard, but they will all be.

While Group H winners Colombia are seen as tricky opponents, Southgate said he had had no preference about who his team would line up against in the last 16.

Their advance, though, came only after a risky gamble paid off.

This Belgian squad - viewed by many as the countries golden generation - certainly arrived in Russian Federation keen to make a notable impact.

Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan also brought focus on the team when they were pictured in May with controversial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of his country's elections, leading to Germany's political leaders asking for explanations.

German magazine Sport Bild also reported a rift had developed in the side between players who were big on social media, such as Ozil, and the Bayern contingent.

England's recent record in knockout matches at major tournaments will have some fans anxious, regardless of who they are playing.

Thousands of England fans are expected to travel to Kaliningrad for the game, with 2,659 tickets sold through the Football Association alone.

He should have hit the target with a header with 10 minutes to go in the first half.

  • Salvatore Jensen