Published: Sun, July 01, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

England 0-1 Belgium: Januzaj goal hands Red Devils poisoned chalice

England 0-1 Belgium: Januzaj goal hands Red Devils poisoned chalice

Other key players such as defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen could also be rested, meaning they may miss the chance to go up against club teammate Harry Kane, and England coach Gareth Southgate is sending mixed messages over whether or not the striker, who has scored five goals so far in Russian Federation, will start.

Belgium toppled England 1-0 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G showdown in Kaliningrad late Thursday, ending the group stage as leaders.

Should they lose to Colombia, the boss is sure to come under pressure for his eight changes against Belgium as well as his reluctance to bring on his skipper and chase the draw that would have seen them top Group G and face Japan.

"I don't think mentally we lose anything because they know we've made changes and they know Belgium weren't their full team as well". "Southgate gambled here", said BBC's chief football writer Phil McNulty.

"We created openings to get something from the game, but we have to keep improving".

"I think there is a belief; we've been undefeated for a long long time", he said of a run of 22 games unbeaten since losing to Spain in Martinez's first game in charge in September 2016.

Harry Maguire has backed England manager Gareth Southgate for having the courage to rotate his team against Belgium despite the possible backlash.

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Japan need just a point to guarentee their place in the enxt round, as do Senegal. And Vardy is to get the nod tonight despite Kane battling for the Golden Boot.

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"The victory is a effect of a very good performance".

Both England and Belgium shook up their teams in a bid to avoid injury, and perhaps even to avoid winning.

Success at the Spartak Stadium would highlight the progress in the two years since England's last major tournament ended with a humiliating Euro 2016 exit to Iceland. "We're facing Japan, we've got to be ready for it", he said.

It was after this that Belgium, behind England on fair play points, began to tot up a few cards, leaving some wondering whether they were trying to throw the match.

Former Manchester United midfielder Januzaj broke the deadlock with a superb curling effort in the 51st minute and the manner of the goal celebration should have silenced any fears that Martinez's side were not interested in victory.

Meanwhile, with its loss, England projects to have an easier path to the final, with Spain and Switzerland looking like the biggest threats standing between the Three Lions and a shot at World Cup glory.

"The most important thing for me is the players are in the best physical condition for the game".

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