Belgium's Roberto Martinez 'delighted' with tougher path to World Cup final

Belgium's Roberto Martinez 'delighted' with tougher path to World Cup final

England didn't pick up a single yellow card in the game, though Belgium's win negated the prematch hype around another round of 16 match decided by "fair play".

The downside came in the poor display from Eric Dier, whose pedestrian effort cemented Jordan Henderson's place as midfield anchorman while Phil Jones did nothing to suggest he would be a significant figure again.

'Of course, if we don't win, I understand people would say whatever about the Belgium game, but for me that was the right thing to do and you've got to take decisions you believe are the right ones'.

"Now we need to look into our individual players".

Some of the positivity which had been building up around the England team was lost with this performance - lacking in the excitement of the previous matches in Russian Federation.

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.

It was obvious Belgium's reserves of strength are vastly superior to England's - Martinez's dirt-trackers, to use a rugby phrase, are fitter for objective than Southgate's.

Yet what did we really learn?

Now that England have finished second in their group, they will take on José Pékerman's Colombian side without 2014's Golden Boot victor, James Rodriguez, who limped off against Senegal earlier today.

Yellow card heartache for Senegal, Japan advances despite loss to Poland
In the evening, Belgium topped Group G after defeating England 1-0, while a complete dead rubber saw Tunisia edge out beat Panama. Colombia's prospects looked bleak a half-hour into the game when playmaker James Rodriguez limped out of the game due to injury.

"Everybody knows the most important game is the knockout round".

"Every team who has got to the round of 16 has deserved to, so there are no easy games that we can see ahead of us".

Soccer Football - World Cup - England Training- England Training Camp, Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 27, 2018. A win would mean a game against either Sweden or Switzerland awaits, and Southgate can be optimistic. Cue the celebrations from the Belgians led by Michy Batshuayi, who picks up the ball, dropped kick it and promptly hits the post and gets smacked right in the face by the rebound.

"We have no idea who, when or where we will play", said Southgate. Goalless by half-time, the players were jeered off. Supporters had travelled from far and at great expense to see this and they were being short-changed, by all the changes.

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.

England now know what awaits them. Belgium's 1-0 win sent it into the side of the bracket containing four World Cup winners and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. The last of these came 12 years ago against Ecuador.

The match, the final game in the Group Stage for each team, will be simulcast in Spanish from Telemundo, the exclusive Spanish-language home of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

"If you start thinking about who you could get, making predictions can be a little bit hard".

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