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The third place match of the Russia 2018 World Cup placed Belgium and England for slug it out for the bronze medal. Belgium came into the match firing on all cylinders and got on the front foot in the first few minutes as Meunier converted Chadli’s cross who latched on to Lukaku’s pass.

England never really threatened to find a way back as Belgium made it difficult for them, dictating all play throughout the first half. Pickford was on hand to save from De Bruyne and gathering from Lukaku’s heavy touch to keep the score at 1-0 as the game went into half time.

England were out in the second half to find a way back into the game. Belgium still had other ideas and still took hold of play with few glimpses from the English. Headers wide, Belgian blocks and notably Alderweid clearing Dier’s chip over Courtois from the line summes up England’s chances in the game.

Belgium soon snuffed out any hopes of an English equalizer as Hazard latched unto De Bruyne’s pass to beat Pickford at the near post to clinch the bronze medal.

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Only one team could be the final piece in this jigsaw puzzle as Croatia took on England for the final ticket to meet France on Sunday.

England started brightly and soon their pressure paid off when Trippier converted a freekick after Modric had brought down Dele just outside the box. England with the upper hand decided to give the game to Croatia and seek mistakes which they hoped to capitalize on. They however couldn’t as poor finishing saw Kane miss a sitter although he was later ruled offside. Croatia without a response for England went into the break a goal down.

Croatia came out in the second period determined to convert possession to goals as they sought to find a way back into the game. The lifeline soon came when Perisic stretched in front of walker to side foot Vrsaljko’s cross home. Croatia however couldn’t capitalize on dismal defensive performance from the English backline to take the lead as Perisic saw his shot hit the inside of the post and out before Rebic’s rebound was gathered safely by Pickford.

England themselves were now put of sorts in attack as they couldn’t hit a shot in the second period as the game went into Extra time. First period of extra time saw England in possession but with little to show for it as Croatia were disciplined at the back and also trying to hit England on the counter. The all important goal came in the second period of ET when Mandzukic stabbed home a Perisic’s header after Walker’s initial clearance.

England however had no answers to reply Croatia who held on for their first ever world cup final going one further than the 1998 side. England face group rivals in the battle for 3rd whilst Croatia take on France for the trophy.

 

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