Belgium defeat England 1-0 as stars watch from bench

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has no regrets about beating England 1-0 to set up a potentially tricky run in the World Cup knockouts.

"We'll will make a final assessment tonight for him to be involved or not".

"We want to win football matches so not happy to have been beaten, but what it means for the next rounds we donĀ“t know".

The Samurai Blue, you'll recall, benefitted from an aberration on Matchday 1 when Colombia's Carlos Sanchez earned the second-fastest red card in World Cup history.

"But at the end of the day we are still in the round of 16 and that's what we're looking forward to".

And if England did have a plan all along, people are hoping that it doesn't go down the drain in the next round, with one person sharing on Twitter: "The most #England thing that could ever happen: Deliberately lose to #Belgium to avoid Brazil in the quarters".

Southgate labelled the Colombia match England's "biggest game for a decade", so was comfortable defending himself when asked if he had a responsibility to fans and the tournament to have winning matches as his top priority.

Rashford dipped a free kick over the crossbar and Fellaini's block flew past the upright as England chased an equaliser, but it was Belgium who came closest to a second as Pickford parried a long-range drive from substitute Dries Mertens late on.

Facing questions over whether he might have preferred to finish second - a draw or defeat would have had that effect - Martinez said: "Honestly, I am delighted".

"So, everybody knows that the most important game is the knockout game".

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Strength in depth?- The number of changes that both sides made may have disappointed fans who wanted to see a full blooded encounter, but it did give us the chance to see how strong the "second choice" players were for both sides.

"Now, we need to focus on Japan, England play Colombia, and if you think further than that it's a problem".

Martinez has hailed the pleasure his whole squad have been taking on the pitch and has worked to build a team spirit where clashes of egos bedevilled the Belgians under his predecessor Marc Wilmots at the last World Cup and at Euro 2016.

Equally, they had one big chance and they took it.

If the match is a draw, with the two countries already joint on points, goals scored and goals conceded, it will come down to fair play.

"In England I had a lot of criticism".

For all Southgate's insistence that victory was all in this final group game, a starting line-up containing eight changes from the win against Panama was hugely informative.

Russia's no-show against Uruguay, the first decent side it faced, made clear it wasn't unexpected world beaters. We saw that in the Euros two years ago. Sure, it makes sense to want the easier path to the final, but as this Cup has already shown - particularly with Germany's shocking exit on Wednesday - things don't always go as planned.

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