Pickford plays as England are beaten in Third Place game

Saturday, 14 , 2018 27comments  |  Jump to last
Belgium 2 - 0 England

Jordan Pickford signed off from the 2018 World Cup today as Belgium beat England in the third/fourth play-off match in Saint Petersburg.

It was an essentially meaningless distraction but it also served as a farewell to the tournament from an England team that defied limited expectations and united a country behind their national team in a manner not really experienced since Italia '90.

It's the second time the Three Lions and Red Devils have met in the tournament following their group-stage fixture last month. Belgium won that match thanks to a solitary Adnan Januzaj goal, the one for which Everton's Pickford received so much unwarranted flak.

Given that he had been ever-present, there were no guarantees that Pickford would be selected for this one but Gareth Southgate elected to give him another start.

His clean sheet lasted just three minutes, however. Thomas Meunier got behind Danny Rose to slide in on a cross and give Belgium the early lead.

Pickord was forced into a couple of saves, the second to deny Romelu Lukaku when he was put in behind the England defence before Eric Dier had his team's best chance with 21 minutes left.

The Tottenham man evaded his man and clipped the ball over the advancing Thibault Courtois but was denied on the line by a saving clearance by his club-mate, Toby Alderweirald.

England were dominant as the game headed towards the final 10 minutes but they were caught on a quick break by Belgium as Dries Mertens collected Kevin de Bruyne's backheel near the halfway line.

The Napoli man teed up Meunier for a sweet volley but Pickford was equal to it with a smart parry to keep it at 1-0.

The Everton man could do nothing about the second when it came a minute later, though, as Eden Hazard powered past Phil Jones and slotted into the corner to double Belgium's lead. Live Forum


Reader Comments (27)

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Keith Monaghan
1 Posted 14/07/2018 at 14:36:18
I think Southgate has done very well with resources limited by the clubs swamping the Premier League with foreign players ever since the FA handed control of the league over to the clubs back in 1992.

That, for example, is why there are no decent creative English midfield players.

The team he's chosen for today's game looks like it's picked to lose – Loftus-Cheek, the carthorse Jones, and Dier, who's even less capable of decent forward passes than the arrogant over-rated water-carrier Henderson.

Jay Wood

2 Posted 14/07/2018 at 14:56:43
I imagine if you canvassed professional footballers and asked them "What is the last game you would choose to play in, if you had the choice?", the 3rd and 4th place playoff game on the eve of the World Cup Final would be right up there.

To play in it means you got so very, very close to the major prize in World Football; but instead you are left on the outside, pressing your nose up against the window of the sweet shop, thinking 'what if..?'

Instead, when your head, your body, your whole being, wants a break from football, you are trotted out to play a totally meaningless game for a global audience.

Judging by the line-ups both camps are (tokeningly) taking it 'seriously', and while I will watch it, it's a game from which you can learn or read very little, I believe.

Colin Glassar
3 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:00:43
Kane should’ve been replaced for this game but I suppose every manager has an undroppable favourite.
Pete Clarke
4 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:03:45
England had more to prove than Belgium and there were a lot of supporters there who wanted the victory.

Reality is that England have lost 3 games at this tournament because they are very light in creativity and intelligence. I don't even know how if a team has ever lost 3 games before and yet were semi-finalists!!

Belgium will be kicking themselves, however, because they were definitely good enough to have won this.

Tony Everan
5 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:09:24
When watching it, I am thinking that Ademola Lookman could do a better job than Marcus Rashford. Lookman has the skill and directness equal to Rashford or better and Lookman has more of a killer instinct in front of goal.

Rashford is a cracking player and very young but, given a chance, I reckon Lookman could put him in the shade.

Colin Glassar
6 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:19:56
Lingard was very disappointing when he came on, unlike Dier who played well. I always thought Southgate was missing a trick by not taking Wilshere. He could’ve been the creative player we were missing.
Lewis Barclay
7 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:26:46
I would like to see us try and buy Loftus-Cheek.
Tom Bowers
8 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:33:17
Too many people were going overboard about England, especially after the six they scored against a very poor Panama. The English media are still glorifying what they did which wasn't much, all things considered. The struggle to beat Colombia showed their limitations up front and, if not for Pickford, it may have been Colombia advancing.

Today, again, the limitations were there for all to see. De Bruyne and Hazard are way ahead of anything England had and in Hazard you can see what Sterling doesn't have. Pickford did his job better than most in the squad and has proved he is the top English keeper.

William Cartwright
9 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:33:33
I like what I have seen of Lookman so far, but to elevate him to a main man for England role is pushing the boat out a bit too far. I am keen to see him back in the fold, but equally, if his head has been turned by the Leipzig experience, then so be it and good luck to him.

I am interested to see the differences in playing style in action as shown in the tournament. Players can basically play the ball forwards, across the park or backwards. Some teams, (and players obviously) instinctively, look to play horizontally or backwards even when a forward ball 'is on'.

Also, I'm surprised to see how few play the ball forward into space for the attacker to run onto. I am hoping these basic points of approach to the game are the direction M&M want to follow. Lookman is definitely one of the "play it forward" mentality. I have been impressed with how McGuire is also a "play it forward" sort of guy, moreso than John Stones but without the style.

Clive Rogers
10 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:39:27
Tony (#5), Lookman has scored one goal for us in 15 appearances, so to say he has a killer instinct in front of goal is a bit premature. He has a long way to go and a lot to prove.
Colin Glassar
11 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:43:30
England, like Everton, struggle to do it over 90 mins. We battered Croatia in the 1st half then wilted. Today we started slowly but were the better team 2nd half. To say we shouldn’t be there is bullshit. We should be in the final.
Danny O'Neill
12 Posted 14/07/2018 at 17:44:55
I rest my case from a previous thread. The difference in quality was there to see. English football needs to fix itself.
Jim Jennings
13 Posted 14/07/2018 at 18:37:49
In the cold light of day, there has to be a realisation that England won three games, two of which were against possibly the two worst teams in the tournament, drew one and lost the three games against the only decent sides they faced.
William Gall
14 Posted 14/07/2018 at 18:39:13
Kane, to me, as the leading goalscorer in the Premier League, did not look sharp and, as some critics suggested, he may have been carrying an injury. He should have been rested for this game.

The back line seem to be forming a good partnership but tend to relax at times causing panic or a goal. Hopefully they will get better with more experience together. The main problem to me was they don't have a play-maker to take control of a game as do the Belgium, French, Croatia and the South American teams.

Overall, England did better than expected, but they now have to prove that they have improved when the Euros come up. Let's remember that the last 4 in the World Cup are from Europe.

Gareth Southgate has done well since taking charge but now he has made a rod for his back as he will be expected to do better in the future.

Peter Gorman
15 Posted 14/07/2018 at 20:34:44
"Too many people were going overboard about England especially after the six they scored against a very poor Panama."

Tom, this is not really my recollection of things. Sure the press did their usual leap onto the bandwagon like the utter rats that they are, and there may have been the odd moron braying, but pretty much every fan of England knew the limitations of the team and were just enjoying the run.

Tony Everan
16 Posted 14/07/2018 at 22:36:33
I think England were expected to get to the quarters, they got to the semis so deserve a bit of credit. Even though – apart from Pickford, Maguire and Trippier – the rest were average at best.
Gavin McGarvey
17 Posted 14/07/2018 at 22:39:18
Good games for Pickford and Dier. I thought Belgium looked a step up from Croatia and I think that contributed to a better game of football. We were pretty terrible first half, but the second half was a lot closer.

Obviously players like Hazard and De Bruyne are a bit ahead of ours, but the Belgian side has progressed a lot over the last four years. Will they be able to win something over the next four?

Personally, I think if we hold our nerve and keep doing the right things, then we will be a lot closer to them, and perhaps even as good as them in four years time.

Peter Gorman
18 Posted 14/07/2018 at 22:55:30
In four years time, Gavin, who can say?

But I do know that the young England teams have been cleaning up tournaments of late and there are some very talented prospects coming through – including a fair few Evertonians.

A lot has been made of the lack of creativity in the England side and I see a player like Dowell who can be as good as he wants to be and I hope he takes whatever chance comes his way this season.

Tony Abrahams
19 Posted 14/07/2018 at 23:00:51
John Stones, average at best?
John G Davies
20 Posted 14/07/2018 at 23:03:06
Stones was the player of the tournament for England.
Andy Crooks
21 Posted 14/07/2018 at 23:05:55
England beat the teams it would have been embarrassing not to beat and came up short against better teams. Given the opposition, anything less than a semi-final would have been poor.

There are positive things to take. I don't rate Southgate as a coach; when it came to the crunch, he was tactically inept. He is, however, a top class man manager. His PR is excellent and his handling of the media unsurpassed in recent times. He got them on board, played down expectation and quite amazingly no one has questioned him at all. That has been quite a result for him.

Other plusses? Stones is magnificent and will be a truly great player. Same for Pickford. I don't quite buy into the idea that this is a stepping stone.

This was, in my view, the best chance England have had and will have of winning the world cup. The best under performed. It will not happen again. England, had they over-performed, could have been World Champions. To me, it is a bitterly disappointing outcome. This is as good as it will get for Southgate. The press will be on his back soon enough.

Danny O'Neill
22 Posted 15/07/2018 at 01:11:51
Stones is absolute quality and I'd have him back tomorrow; is he in danger of being City's 4th choice centre back next season?

That said, if he wants to be genuine top drawer, the concentration piece and reliance on recovery needs to be worked on. The type of momentary switch off that cost them the goal against Croatia. At the very highest level, that will make him more Distin than Kompany. Read the game & watch the man, not the ball because against top, top strikers, you get punished.

Bob Parrington
23 Posted 15/07/2018 at 06:59:41
Colin (#3), Spot on. He was AWOL for the second game running. In fact, that was what he never did – "Run"... only an apathetic saunter. Not good for a so-called Captain, whether he was "stuffed" or not! Yet he will likely end up with the Golden Boot award.

We're missing a play maker in midfield. Maybe Wilshere might have been a good squad addition.

Lingard started some excitement when he came on but his completed pass percentage seemed pretty damn awful. No the only one, might I add.

Contrary to some comment above, I feel that Stones played a "cultured" tournament. Prone to the odd mistake but there were more of those from his defence colleagues than him.

Now we're at the final stages – time for Everton to kick-on with some signings and departures!!!

Bob Parrington
24 Posted 15/07/2018 at 07:11:32
Andy (#21), I tend to agree with you about Southgate's coaching/game strategic skills/nouse. His other skills appear to be better than other England managers I can recall. So, title of manager and get him the right assistant, eh? Any likely candidate IYO?
David Hamilton
25 Posted 15/07/2018 at 10:00:24
I was interested to see that Romelu missed two almost certain goals due to a poor first touch.

Plus ça change...

Liam Reilly
26 Posted 16/07/2018 at 11:23:10
He did a lot of his usual pointing at the ground too, David.

We miss his goals but he continues to be on the periphery when it really matters in the big games.

Just doesn't impose himself enough when he's up against decent defenders.

Lee Brownlie
27 Posted 17/07/2018 at 04:11:55
Pete Clark (#4)... More than a bit silly to ask if anyone else has ever lost 3 games at a World Cup and still made the semis (like we must have been sooo lucky!!) – as actually I'm pretty sure that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to reach the semis if all those losses, hey even one in the knockout stages (go figure!) had come before the semis!!!

[Spookily concealed?] within the fact that TWO of those losses were the semis themselves, and then the following 3rd/ 4th playoff game, I'm pretty certain there lies your answer!!! And so, having lost just one group game, prior to the semis, then yes I'd imagine that's something which has often happened!!! That quite so hard to figure out???

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