England face Belgium with top spot at stake

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       Gareth Southgate has steered England into the knockout stages of Russia 2018

The result ended England's 12-match unbeaten run and set up a round of 16 tie with a unsafe Colombia side, while group winners Belgium face Japan, but Southgate wasn't second-guessing his team selection.

Southgate held his press conference yesterday afternoon, at the same time that news filtered through from Kazan that holders Germany had been dumped out of the tournament by South Korea.

"That is what attracts everybody to World Cup".

Regardless of whether England finish first or second, they play one of the teams from Group H which is arguably the weakest in the tournament. "This World Cup is very unpredictable and you need to look at yourself and how strong you can be".

Colombia qualified for the knockout stage as group winners thanks to a 1-0 win over a Senegal side who crashed out in dramatic fashion. "We want to win". The knockout game is the important one.

How far do you think England will go at this World Cup?

In some ways this was a courageous decision from Southgate, sacrificing the momentum England had built up with victories against Tunisia and Panama in the service of squad cohesion and schedule scheming.

Belgium are by far the toughest challenge in the group, boasting talent such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.

With qualification assured, Gareth Southgate opted to shake up his squad and made eight changes with only Jordan Pickford, John Stones and Ruben Loftus-Cheek retained from the win over Panama.

Opposite number Roberto Martinez is expected to make wholesale changes to his team, with Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku nearly certain to miss out after picking up an ankle knock in Belgium´s 5-2 win over Tunisia.

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"I think it was a pretty even game", Southgate said.

The 1-0 win for Roberto Martinez's much-changed team in Kaliningrad earns a second-round tie against Japan while England have a trickier-looking match against Colombia. That is the reality, we have put ourselves in this situation, we wanted to qualify and we have done that.

"But the knockout game is the biggest game for a decade so needed to make sure our key players were reserved".

England's Harry Kane is leading the race for the World Cup Golden Boot.

England had to settle for second, and will play Colombia in Moscow as group runners-up.

But Tunisia levelled in the 50th minute as Fakhreddine Ben Youssef slotted home from a Wahbi Khazri cross, before the latter netted 16 minutes later to seal the three points for Tunisia.

Japan coach Akira Nishino has warned his players against complacency when they meet the already eliminated Poles.

Colombia have grown into this World Cup and can not be taken lightly.

But Southgate refused to entertain such a thought. One day later, England's Kane scored a hat trick, adding to his two goals in England's opener, and leads the World Cup with five goals.

Aliou Cisse´s Senegal will attempt to succeed where the rest of their continental rivals failed, with Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia all out.

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