FIFA World Cup - 3rd/4th Play-Offs

World Cup 2018: England finish fourth after Belgium defeat

By Phil McNultyChief football writer in St Petersburg, Russia

England's World Cup campaign in Russia ended with a 2-0 defeat by Belgium in St Petersburg that meant the Three Lions finished in fourth place.

Gareth Southgate's team were unable to bounce back from the despair of Wednesday's extra-time loss against Croatia in the semi-final in Moscow - but this still represents a highly creditable tournament for England.

Thomas Meunier put Belgium ahead after just four minutes when he slid in ahead of Danny Rose to divert Nacer Chadli's cross past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

England had chances to level in the second half as Toby Alderweireld cleared off the line from Eric Dier, while Harry Maguire also headed wide from a good position.

Eden Hazard wrapped it up for Belgium with eight minutes left when he got the better of Phil Jones to beat Pickford, who had just saved magnificently from Meunier, with a powerful finish.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku missed two chances and was substituted without scoring, leaving England captain Harry Kane in pole position to win the World Cup's Golden Boot with six goals.

Kane will collect the award barring remarkable deeds from France duo Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, who are on three goals apiece, in Sunday's final against Croatia in Moscow (kick-off 16:00 BST).

England's run ends in disappointment

Southgate made five changes to the team beaten by Croatia - but there was still a clear determination to secure their best result at this tournament since 1966.

And with Belgium counterpart Roberto Martinez adopting the same approach, it made for an entertaining play-off in this magnificent arena in St Petersburg.

It would have been easy for England's heads to drop after defensive sloppiness from Danny Rose - who allowed Meunier to slide in on his blind side - led to them falling behind so early.

England, as others have before them, struggled to cope with the variety of Belgium's attack, but their attitude was once again commendable and they had chances to pull the game level before Hazard snuffed out their hopes.

Dier's clever chip was miraculously cleared off the line by Alderweireld, before he and Harry Maguire headed wide from good positions as England pressed.

This is a fixture regarded as an unwanted intrusion for teams who have suffered the despair of a World Cup semi-final defeat, but Belgium and England made it competitive.

It was, in some respects, a game too far for England after the disappointment of Wednesday's loss to Croatia - but to go home having finished fourth at this spectacular World Cup in Russia is no disgrace.

Stones maintains the standard

England defender John Stones, apart from one lapse that let Mario Mandzukic in for Croatia's winner in Moscow on Wednesday, has had a magnificent World Cup.

And he ended it with a flawless performance in St Petersburg, doing more than anyone to keep Belgium's outstanding attack at bay.

Stones produced a standout moment in the first half when he retreated in the face of Lukaku running at him, biding his time before making a perfect tackle.

He was the barrier on countless occasions and even got a handshake from his Manchester City team-mate De Bruyne for one late interception.

Stones' ability to play out from the back and his cultured style are integral to Southgate's future plans - and he has performed in this tournament in exactly the manner his most fervent admirers hoped he would.

Belgium can come again

Belgium's delight at a third-place finish - their best at a World Cup - was obvious in the manner in which Martinez and his assistant Thierry Henry celebrated with their players at full-time.

It meant a lot - although it could have been even better after beating Brazil in the quarter-finals only to then lose to France in the last four.

However, Martinez has a truly outstanding squad at his disposal and there is every chance they will now get stronger having gained stature here.

Any squad that boasts the attacking firepower they have in De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku, as well as their strength of squad elsewhere, is a force to be reckoned with - and this may be only the start of Belgium's story as a rising football force.

Man of the match - Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Eden Hazard
Hazard ran the show for Belgium against England. The Chelsea forward has been involved in seven World Cup goals for Belgium (four goals and three assists) - since 1966, no player has been involved in more.

Super Hazard - the stats

  • This is Belgium's best finish at a World Cup, having previously finished fourth in 1986.
  • England have lost three of their past five matches - their previous three losses came over a period of 28 matches.
  • The Three Lions lost back-to-back matches for the first time since June 2014, when they were beaten by Italy and Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup.
  • This was England's 100th match at a major tournament - 69 at the World Cup, 31 at the European Championship. They have won 39, drawn 32 and lost 29 of those.
  • England lost three matches at a major tournament for only the second time, also losing three times at Euro 1988.
  • Since 1966, no player has been involved in more World Cup goals for Belgium than Hazard (seven - three goals and four assists), level with Jan Ceulemans (also four goals and three assists).
  • Meunier was the 10th player to score for Belgium at this Russia 2018, the joint most by a team at a World Cup - also 10 for France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.
  • Kane ended the 2018 World Cup with six goals from six shots on target - however, he had just one shot on target in his final four games (his penalty against Colombia in the last 16).
  • England had as many shots on target in this match as they managed in their previous three knockout games combined (six).



Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Courtois
  • 2Alderweireld
  • 4Kompany
  • 5Vertonghen
  • 15Meunier
  • 17TielemansSubstituted forDembéléat 78'minutes
  • 6WitselBooked at 90mins
  • 22ChadliSubstituted forVermaelenat 39'minutes
  • 7De Bruyne
  • 10E Hazard
  • 9LukakuSubstituted forMertensat 60'minutes


  • 3Vermaelen
  • 8Fellaini
  • 11Carrasco
  • 12Mignolet
  • 13Casteels
  • 14Mertens
  • 16T Hazard
  • 18Januzaj
  • 19Dembélé
  • 20Boyata
  • 21Batshuayi
  • 23Dendoncker


Formation 3-1-4-2

  • 1Pickford
  • 16Jones
  • 5StonesBooked at 52mins
  • 6MaguireBooked at 76mins
  • 4Dier
  • 12Trippier
  • 21Loftus-CheekSubstituted forAlliat 84'minutes
  • 17Delph
  • 3RoseSubstituted forLingardat 45'minutes
  • 9Kane
  • 10SterlingSubstituted forRashfordat 45'minutes


  • 2Walker
  • 7Lingard
  • 8Henderson
  • 11Vardy
  • 13Butland
  • 14Welbeck
  • 15Cahill
  • 18Young
  • 19Rashford
  • 20Alli
  • 22Alexander-Arnold
  • 23Pope
Alireza Faghani

Match Stats

Home TeamBelgiumAway TeamEngland
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Belgium 2, England 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Belgium 2, England 0.

  3. Booking

    Axel Witsel (Belgium) is shown the yellow card.

  4. Post update

    Harry Kane (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Thomas Vermaelen (Belgium).

  6. Post update

    Foul by Harry Maguire (England).

  7. Post update

    Axel Witsel (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Dele Alli replaces Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

  10. Post update

    Eric Dier (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Dries Mertens (Belgium).

  12. Goal!

    Goal! Belgium 2, England 0. Eden Hazard (Belgium) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Marcus Rashford (England) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Fabian Delph.

  14. Post update

    Marcus Rashford (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Mousa Dembélé (Belgium).

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Thomas Meunier (Belgium) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Dries Mertens.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Belgium. Mousa Dembélé replaces Youri Tielemans.

  18. Post update

    Harry Kane (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Vincent Kompany (Belgium).

  20. Booking

    Harry Maguire (England) is shown the yellow card.


Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.


Scores, Results & Fixtures

Saturday 14th July 2018

As It Stood


2Football Union of Russia32018446
3Saudi Arabia310227-53








4Costa Rica301225-31


3South Korea31023303




View full FIFA World Cup tables

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC