No agony of defeat as England move on at World Cup

Virginia Santiago
July 7, 2018

With both sides already qualified, and level on points, goal difference and goals scored, their disciplinary records will decide who finishes top of the group if they draw in Kaliningrad.

External Link Oliver Kay tweet: I am so, so up for England NOT winning Group G. Totally understand all the counter-arguments, including momentum and, yes, the possibility of facing Colombia.

But the result also means Gareth Southgate's young side avoid the top half of the draw in Russian Federation, which contains heavyweights France, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil.

Japan has reached the knockout round at the World Cup three times in the last five tournaments.

Gareth Southgate made 8 changes to the England squad that demolished Panama in their second group fixture while Roberto Martinez retained just Boyata and Courtois and changed the rest of the team.

Not only that, the Colombians have pedigree after a run to the quarterfinal stage at the 2014 World Cup on the back of some stunning performances from their star man James Rodriguez.

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Neither team wanted to win the group and end up in the "bad half" of the draw.

"I believe it is a game we can win but it is going to be a fantastic challenge for us", he said.

Belgium would control much of the rest of the half but England should have equalised when Vardy, receiving the ball in acres of space in midfield, prodded a defence-splitting pass through to Rashford.

Southgate hinted that he would make some changes to his starting 11 but did not go into specifics.

Opposite number Roberto Martinez is expected to make wholesale changes to his team, with Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku nearly certain to miss out after picking up an ankle knock in Belgium´s 5-2 win over Tunisia.

The 61-year-old, from Bradford on Avon, in Wiltshire, said he hoped to see an England win and would not lose out on bookings in Rostov, the city where the Three Lions' could have played had they won the group.

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The DR Congo worldwide posted a photo of Romelu Lukaku on the bench with his hand his his head alongside the caption: "S*** guys we weren't meant to do that".

"It was a hard game for us, our first real test, and we'll take a lot away from it".

England's Harry Kane is leading the race for the World Cup Golden Boot.

Argentina only booked their place in the knockouts in the dying embers of their final group game, against Nigeria, while European champions Portugal and 2010 winners Spain were far from convincing in Group A. This year I've been playing in a team at Real Sociedad who have made me grow as a player. The winners of Group G will meet either Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals if they defeat Japan on July 2.

Flemish daily De Standaard wrote: "The Red Devils showed they were sportsmanlike and ambitious and that they are afraid of no one - not even a quarter-final against Brazil".

But Southgate refused to entertain such a thought.

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