When the UEFA Nations League was first conceived in 2018, many raised their concerns about whether it could be a meaningful tournament or would just result in more fixture congestion in the calendar. However, if it’s going to give us box office encounters like England vs Belgium, fans could be all for it.
With the two juggernauts of Group 2 clashing in front of an empty Wembley Stadium, the heavyweight affair started on a cautious note as England initially dominated possession before Belgium wrested it back.
In the second half, England stepped up their game and deservedly went ahead through a deflected Mason Mount effort. With no more goals in the game, the Three Lions recorded a group-topping victory.
On that note, here are the player ratings from England's 2-1 win over Belgium.
England Player Ratings
GK: Jordan Pickford - 6.5/10
With many questioning his place in the team, the Everton keeper put in a solid performance to keep his doubters quiet. Despite coming out for a corner and missing it, Jordan Pickford was faultless in the remainder of the game. The 26-year-old claimed one cross, made one save and shut down the angle for Carrasco as the Belgian lined up a 1-on-1.
RWB: Trent Alexander-Arnold - 6/10
Still reeling from the biggest defeat in his professional career, the PFA Young Player of the Year had a rather forgettable match. Trent Alexander-Arnold, deployed as a wing-back for his crossing ability, had only one cross that connected with a teammate.
RCB: Kyle Walker - 7.5/10
The decision to play Kyle Walker as one of three centre-backs came under much scrutiny at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Nevertheless, Gareth Southgate has stuck by this tactical setup and decided to deploy the Manchester City man in that position against Belgium.
Walker justified his manager's decision with a stellar performance that saw him constantly cover for the mistakes of his defensive partners. Across the 90 minutes, Walker made five clearances, blocked two shots, won two duels and completed 88% of his passes.
CB: Harry Maguire - 5.5/10
It’s been a hectic few weeks for the Manchester United captain as his off-the-field troubles coupled with his on-the-pitch performances created a media storm. Against a menacing-looking Romelu Lukaku, the 27-year-old struggled immensely. Maguire lost out on 4/5 duels, misplaced four passes and was dribbled past two times.
LCB: Eric Dier - 5.5/10
Deployed as one of two outer centre-backs, Eric Dier was always going to be exposed as a weak link in an already shaky back-three. That weakness was exploited 16 minutes in as he was outrun by Lukaku. Dier brought down the big Belgian to concede a penalty when there was no need to slide in.
LWB: Kieran Trippier - 6.5/10
As a right-footed LWB, Keiran Trippier did his best to support Marcus Rashford down the left. He put in an accomplished and professional performance that will solidify his place as Southgate’s most trusted LWB. The 30-year-old made four clearances, won three duels, made one tackle and produced two key passes.
RCM: Jordan Henderson - 6/10
Brought in to dictate England’s passing play, Jordan Henderson struggled to impose his style on the game. His most notable contribution was going down questionably to win his team a penalty. In a quiet display, Henderson had 56 touches of the ball and completed 40 of them.
LCM: Declan Rice - 6.5/10
Tasked with being the runner of the midfield pivot, Declan Rice tried his best to support his front-three. He did that through runs from the deep as well as offering himself as a passing option in the final-third. Rice’s surging runs through the middle were key in advancing England’s attack in the second half. The 21-year-old completed 62 passes, made three interceptions and created one chance.
RW: Mason Mount - 6/10
Not a winger by trade, Mason Mount struggled immensely on the right flank. He was isolated, uninfluential and only touched the ball 17 times in the first 45 minutes. However, in the second half when he moved out to the left, he had a bit more influence. He was able to cut in on the Belgian defenders and attempted a shot that deflected past Mignolet and won the game for England.
LW: Marcus Rashford - 6/10
Fresh off an MBE, Marcus Rashford topped of a surreal few days by scoring a penalty in the world’s most famous stadium. Although he wasn’t the most potent in front of goal, Rashford, with his all-round play, was decent and his work rate was industrious down the left flank.
ST: Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 7/10
Stepping in for the fatigued Harry Kane, Calvert-Lewin struggled in the matchup against Belgium’s three CBs. He was deprived of service and was unable to do much in his 66-minute cameo. Nevertheless, the in-form striker won an impressive seven aerial duels, attempted three shots and intercepted a pass.
England Substitutes' Ratings:
Harry Kane: N/A
Brought on when the game was 2-1, Harry Kane wasn’t involved enough to influence the game.
Kalvin Philips: 6/10
Brought on alongside Kane, Kalvin Philipps helped England to keep the ball and see the game out in the final quarter.
Reece James: N/A
Even though Alexander-Arnold didn’t show signs of an injury, James was brought on to reinforce the message of competition for places in the team.
Jadon Sancho: N/A
The Dortmund winger didn’t have enough time to make an impact in the game.