England-Belgium deadlocked 0-0 at halftime

Both the teams have qualified for the knock-outs and a lacklusture first half failed to produce any goals as the teams avoided a top of the group finish.

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford makes a save.   -  Getty Images

A duel between the 32 best teams in the world is not supposed to have inconsequential games where sides take it easy, none whatsoever bothered about the result. But the Group G encounter between a promising England side and the golden generation of Belgium was treated as another knockabout in the park, with both teams assured of a spot in the next round. 

England brought in eight new faces, with Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy getting his first start of the World Cup with skipper Harry Kane sitting out. Belgium manager Roberto Martinez went one better, changing as many as nine players – keeping the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne on the bench – from the starting XI that bulldozed Tunisia. 

The urge to top the group remained largely missing in the players, with Colombia and Japan to choose from for the knockout games.

Youri Tielemans had the first shot on goal when he tested Jordan Pickford with a snapshot from 25 yards out in the sixth minute, the Everton goalkeeper keeping it out with a strong block with no Belgium players around to take advantage of the rebound.

 The Belgians, enjoying early possession, again attacked the English goal in the 10 minute with Marouane Fellani heading down an Adnan Januzaj cross for Michy Batshuayi inside the box. The Borussia Dortmund forward’s flick spouted through the England goalkeeper’s arm and needed a goal-line intervention from Gary Cahill to keep the score deadlocked.  

The young Trent Alexander-Arnold was England’s standout player in the first half, with his bright runs down the right wing posing some uncomfortable moments for Thorgan Hazard and Thomas Varmaelen. The match, however, failed to reach any great heights with proceedings often mimicking a friendly, as was suspected at the start of the play.

The second-string England defence, though, again needed a last-ditch clearance from Alexander-Arnold in the 27 minute after a penalty box scramble saw Fellani hoicking the ball goal wards.

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