Januzaj strike helps Belgium beat England

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Adnan Januzaj of Belgium in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

(REUTERS) – IT had been viewed as the game no-one wanted to win but Adnan Januzaj’s fine finish early in the second half gave Belgium a 1-0 victory over England to secure the Group G top spot in a contest between two sets of reserves.

The result means Belgium, who won all three of their group games to finish on nine points, will face Japan in the last 16 while England, who came second with six, take on Colombia.

That gives Gareth Southgate’s England a tougher test in the second round but should they get past the South Americans they will find themselves on a much more promising path to the final.

Belgium’s side of the draw includes Brazil, who they could face in the quarter-finals, Argentina, Portugal and France.

England’s opponents are, on paper at least, easier — Sweden or Switzerland await in the last eight — and they face less travelling should they progress.

“The knockout game is the biggest game for a decade, so we had to make sure our key players were preserved,” said Southgate, having left out captain Harry Kane among others.

“We created openings to get something from the game, but we have to keep improving. I think the supporters know what the most important thing is,” he added.