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Gareth Southgate's comments on Belgium following their 2-0 win over England shows his class

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England fans may have felt that their World Cup was over following semi-final heartbreak, but the Three Lions still had one more match to contend with before flying home.

No team wants to be anything other than the tournament winners, but England and Belgium playing in the third-place play-off represented progress for both nations, especially Gareth Southgate's men.

On this occasion, England yet again had to settle for fourth place, just like in 1990 where they were defeated 2-1 by the hosts Italy.

PSG wing-back Thomas Meunier gave Roberto Martinez's outfit an early lead as he fired past Jordan Pickford from close range, before Eden Hazard sealed the victory for Belgium late in the second half after racing clear of Phil Jones - just like he did in the 2018 FA Cup final.

Just like the second half and beyond of the last four defeat by Croatia, England never looked at the races, and despite the fact he will probably end up winning the Golden Boot, Harry Kane looked very quiet once again in-front of goal.

The simple fact of the matter is that Southgate has taken a generally young, inexperienced team to a huge tournament, and have performed against the odds to even get beyond the quarter-finals.

Southgate's post-match interviews during the competition have been frank and honest, and this one was no different as he heaped praise on the opposition.

“I think they’re a better side than us,” Southgate told ITV following the defeat.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH63-BEL-ENG

“We had to play flat out," the England boss continued.

“The reality is we had a day less to recover. Great credit to them (Belgium) – they’ll probably think they should have got further.

“The players deserve every credit. Belgium are at their peak, we’re nowhere near our peak now. I think we’ve tried to maximise the players we’ve had. It’s not club football, we can’t go and buy players.

Belgium v England: 3rd Place Playoff - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

“The players that were here have acquitted themselves magnificently. I couldn’t have asked more of them.”

You have to respect Southgate for his honesty.

The future is still bright for England, and with a new crop of youngsters ready to break into the plans of the national team boss, Euro 2020 could be the tournament where football really comes home.

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Topics:
Football
Gareth Southgate
Roberto Martinez
Croatia Football
Thomas Meunier
Jordan Pickford
Belgium Football
England Football
Eden Hazard
World Cup
Premier League
Phil Jones

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