Belgium pips England to top spot in WCup Group G

Cristiano Ronaldo

Gareth Southgate's England, by contrast, face a hard task in the next round against Colombia but are in the half of the draw in which the only other former champions are Spain. The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify and we have done that.There are players with yellow cards and I don't think it would be professional for us to put those players in a risk to miss the knockout phase. "Why we would be starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me really".

Football is about winning but when England faceoff against Belgium in their final group match, both teams could be forgiven for not wanting to come out on top.

Having got this odd game out of the way, both Belgium and England can now focus fully on going deep into the World Cup knock-out stages and their fresh legs could be crucial.

Their final game presented the usual conundrum for teams already through with a game to spare: Do you try to keep the momentum going with your starters, or cycle in reserves to fight for a place and give the regulars a rest?

"What I've discussed with the players is we must not waste any energy thinking whether it's better to be first or second in the group, who we might play in future rounds", said Southgate. Tomorrow we want to perform well but the priority is not to win. We have levels still to reach and work to do, but that's nothing we didn't already know.

Meanwhile, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez praised his team's performance, telling reporters: 'The victory is a outcome of a very good display. The last of these came 12 years ago against Ecuador.

The Three Lions showed more attacking intent during the final stages of the first half but they were let down by their final pass, as the sides went into the break scoreless.

"With Romelu Lukaku we had very good news on the scan". They face the risky Colombia and will meet the victor of Sweden against Switzerland in the last eight if they come through.

They finished runners-up to Croatia and are now seeded on the same side of the bracket as whoever wins Group G.

What looked like being one of the ties of the group stage instead became a rather unusual encounter given the talk about the most favourable knockout route, including suggestions that finishing runners-up may be preferable.

Colombia on the other hand will provide a classic South American challenge with a fast, technically superb front line of James, Falcao and Cuadrado, who will be a real test for the slower England backline on counterattacks.

But England top Group G because they have a better disciplinary record, after receiving two bookings compared to Belgium's three.

England´s forward Harry Kane celebrates with England´s midfielder Jordan Henderson (R) after scoring a penalty during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Panama at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24, 2018.

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