England 0-1 Belgium: 5 Talking Points as Belgium top Group G, World Cup 2018
SCORE: England 0-1 Belgium (Januzaj 51')
The final set of group stage matches were played with Panama taking on Tunisia and the top of the table clash was between England and Belgium to decide the set of fixtures for the Round of Sixteen.
Both England and Belgium were on 6 points each with the former in first place owing to a superior fair play point tally. Belgium needed to get all three points in order to set up a clash with Japan instead of the free-scoring Colombian side and that's exactly what they did.
Despite both managers deciding to give some of the reserves a run out in the competition with qualification already secured, the game was played at a good pace with two of the highest goal-scoring sides in Russia looking to do what they do best.
Plenty to contemplate about, here are 5 Talking Points:
#5 Premier League affair on the global stage
An argument for the effectiveness of the Premier League was this match between England and Belgium. The English have struggled to find success on the international stage despite a wealth of talent in their ranks over the past couple of decades.
A team with the talents of Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Wayne Rooney failed to win silverware for their country. The reason most commonly offered was substantiated by the number of Belgian players who ply their trade in England - the fact that England doesn't prioritize local talent.
For the first time though, England themselves have a reason to be optimistic in an international event after the terrific start to the campaign.
While Belgium can boast of some of the best from the Premier League with a Tottenham defensive partnership at the back, the Manchester City captain as their captain, Kevin de Bruyne in the centre alongside Fellaini, and arguably the biggest thing in England since Cristiano Ronaldo - Eden Hazard.
England meanwhile, understandably, have quality from the ranks of Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea but also showcase the talents of lesser-known sides in England like Leicester and Everton.
No wonder the game was as open as any in the competition so far; a hallmark of the Premier League - exciting attacking football.