World Cup: Belgium beat England to win Group G, first win in 40 years for Tunisia

England's midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) vies with Belgium's midfielder Moussa Dembele during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Belgium at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 28, 2018.
England's midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) vies with Belgium's midfielder Moussa Dembele during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Belgium at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 28, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

KALININGRAD, RUSSIA (REUTERS) - A superb second-half strike from Adnan Januzaj gave Belgium a 1-0 win over England on Thursday (June 28) to see them top World Cup Group G with a perfect record and consign England to second place, with both sides already assured of going through to the last 16.

Belgium now face Japan in Rostov-on-Don on Monday (July 2) while England play Colombia in Moscow on Tuesday (July 3) in the knockout phase. Victory in the next round would see Belgium play Brazil or Mexico with England up against Sweden or Switzerland.

Belgum and England rested several first-choice players on Thursday and, despite half-chances at either end, the fans wondered if their teams were willing to accept second spot for an arguably easier run-in by avoiding the more fancied teams.

Yet six minutes into the second half when the 23-year-old Januzaj shimmied on the edge of the box and sent a perfect shot into the far corner of the net past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford there was delight in the Belgian camp.

England rued a wasted opportunity by Marcus Rashford after 66 minutes, when he fired wide after finding himself one-on-one with Thibaut Courtois in the Belgian goal. But having rested striker Harry Kane and seven others, they found no reply.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez fielded Thomas Vermaelen at right-back after injury and sent on central defensive talisman Vincent Kompany near the end to complete a clean sweep with all 20 outfield players in the squad having played in Russia.

In the other Group G game, Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri set up the first goal and scored the second to give the North African side their first World Cup win in 40 years with a 2-1 victory over debutants Panama.

 
 
 
 

Fakhreddine Ben Youssef turned in Khazri's perfect cross in the 51st minute to cancel out a first-half own goal by defender Yassine Meriah, with the ball taking a big deflection off a shot by Panama winger Jose Luis Rodriguez in the 33rd minute.

Making their fifth World Cup appearance, Tunisia dominated possession and took the lead after 66 minutes when Khazri finished of a sleek passing move with a tap-in.

Tunisia were the first African country to win a World Cup finals game, beating Mexico in Argentina in 1978, but had since drawn four and lost nine, including Saturday's 5-2 defeat by Belgium. Both teams had already failed to progress to the last 16 with Belgium and England qualifying from the group.