Published: Sat, June 30, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

England's Gareth Southgate 'brave' to make Belgium changes - Harry Maguire

England's Gareth Southgate 'brave' to make Belgium changes - Harry Maguire

"There is a big difference as a player in going home knowing you can say that or not say that".

On Saturday, Lukaku recorded a pair of goals for the second consecutive game - both Belgium victories - to become the first player to score multiple goals in consecutive World Cup matches since Argentina's Diego Maradona in 1986.

England's support has swelled as the team have excelled in the tournament.

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.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele was in action for Belgium against England at the World Cup on Thursday.

Belgium's next game will be against Japan, a team which Martinez described to be very "dynamic, well organized, strong and technical".

England, meanwhile, were happy to sit back and allow Belgium to dictate play as they looked to hit on the counter via the pace of Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford. 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.

When Belgium and England play their last 16 matches the lineups will bear little resemblance to those on Thursday.

Southgate did not get off the bench during the 2002 World Cup, and has spoken about how, while he clearly wished his team-mates well, ultimately it is not an enjoyable experience for those not involved.

The game got off to a lively start, with Belgium's Youri Tieleman forcing Jordan Pickford into a save with a venomous strike from distance, while Michy Batshuayi saw his effort cleared off the line inside the opening 10 minutes.

Subsequently, the only aspect of the group yet to be decided was which of the two teams would qualify at the top of the group.

"The supporters have been fantastic tonight and I think they understand what the most important thing is".

"The victory is a effect of a very good performance", he said.

A set piece offered another chance as the game ticked into the final quarter, but Maguire's header back across goal was easily claimed by Courtois.

Of course, neither England nor Belgium has achieved much recent major tournament success, so the anguish over whether or not either team even wanted to win Group H felt like a bit much. But, for me, that was the right thing to do and you've got to take decisions you believe are the right ones.

"He and [Roberto] Martínez were both probably looking at the bigger picture and know that the next game is the biggest one of them all". You get players going into training knowing that they have played in a World Cup. In global football, that's just nearly a desperate call to see a loose team with no understanding of what we're trying to do.

"If you start thinking any further than that I think you're risking a lot". "It wouldn't authentic for what we've been trying to build for the last two years".

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