England will play Colombia in the knockout stage of the World Cup after losing 1-0 to Belgium in the final group game.
The defeat means manager Gareth Southgate’s team finished runners-up in group G.It was England’s first defeat in a year, but may have given them an easier route to the final than if they had topped the group.
Had they done that, they could have faced Brazil in the quarter-finals.
The draw dictates they now play the winners of group H – Colombia, in Moscow on Tuesday.It will be England’s first knockout match since 2010, when they were beaten 4-1 by Germany at the last-16 stage in South Africa.Belgium, who topped group G, will play the runners up in group H – Japan.So what happens next?
If England beat Colombia in the last-16, they will face the winners of the last-16 meeting between Group F winners Sweden and Group E runners-up Switzerland.Beat Sweden or Switzerland, and their possible semi-final opponents would be Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark.
Reach the final from there, and England will face whoever has emerged from the other side of the draw.The possibilities include France, Argentina, Uruguay, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium and Japan.
England made eight changes to the team after beating Panama 6-1 in their previous game.Players coming in included Danny Rose, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.
Top scorer and captain Harry Kane was rested, as were Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Jordan Henderson.Belgium rotated heavily too, making nine changes, choosing to rest striker Romelu Lukaku.
During the first half, both Gary Cahill and Trent Alexander-Arnold cleared off the line for England.Both sets of fans booed as referee Damir Skomina blew his whistle for half time.Just six minutes into the second half, Belgium’s Adnan Januzaj scored with a superb left-footed strike after cutting in from the right.
Marcus Rashford and substitute Danny Welbeck went closest to an equaliser for England.Southgate said the match was “a good test for us, but we had half an eye on the knockout stages”.
“It was a pretty even game,” he told ITV.”I thought they had better control and possession than us in the first half. We had a couple of good chances in the second half.
“The players tonight never stopped. We’ve got to just keep improving.”Robert Blundell, 49, from Worcester, was in the stadium with his son Thomas, 20, and was disappointed with the starting 11.
“I genuinely feel I’ve been made a fool of because he changed the team so much,” he said.”You’ve got to win every game. You’ve got to keep momentum, play strikers when they are hot.”You’ve got to play them all to win.
“I’ve been watching England away for 20 years and it’s the first time I’ve come away feeling I’ve been made a fool of.
“I’ve got a ticket for the final but I think I’ll be getting a refund.”