Against England, Belgium remain unbeaten to play Japan in last 16

Updated: 2018-06-29 07:50
Belgium's Adnan Januzaj scores their first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G match between England and Belgium in Kaliningrad, Russia, June 28, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

KALININGRAD, Russia - England barely seemed troubled by losing. Belgium appeared to be a reluctant winner.

Such was the curious conclusion to the group stage at the World Cup on Thursday. Neither team needed to win and there was good reason for neither to even want to win.

Belgium did collect the three points, beating England 1-0, and secured first place in the group on Adnan Januzaj's curling shot. But that might not turn out to be the desirable outcome since the victory diverted Belgium onto the tougher potential path to the final.

Although Belgium gets what appears to be an easier match against Japan in the round of 16, it could get trickier with a victory in Rostov-on-Don on Monday. Brazil, Portugal, France and Argentina are possible future opponents.

"I don't think you can plan the ideal scenario," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "You have seen big nations coming very close to elimination, or already eliminated."

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