England’s World Cup campaign ended in disappointing fashion as they were beaten by Belgium in the third-place play-off in St Petersburg.
Gareth Southgate’s side delivered the Three Lions’ best showing at the tournament since 1990 but finished with back-to-back losses after the agonising 2-1 semi-final defeat in extra time against Croatia.
Belgium missed out on reaching their first final when they were beaten by France in the last four, but full-back Thomas Meunier, who was suspended for the previous game, slotted in Saturday’s opening goal from close range after just four minutes.
Captain Eden Hazard was impressive throughout the contest and scored his side’s second goal with seven minutes remaining.
Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne forced Jordan Pickford into a fine one-handed save shortly after and the Everton goalkeeper also made a sharp save to keep out Meunier’s thumping volley.
England looked flat after their efforts on Wednesday and were second best in the opening period, before threatening to find a breakthrough in the second half.
Eric Dier’s low drive was comfortable for Thibaut Courtois and Dier then had a dinked shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Tottenham team-mate Toby Alderweireld.
As Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku failed to find the net, it means opposite number Harry Kane, who came closest to netting by scuffing a shot wide, continues to lead the Golden Boot race with six goals.
The World Cup final takes place in Moscow on Sunday (kick-off 16:00 BST), with 1998 champions France taking on Croatia.
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