Gareth Southgate defends decision to rest key players in England defeat

David Platt celebrates scoring his memorable goal against Belgium at Italia 90

There has been much debate in the media, pubs, offices and living rooms across England about whether Gareth Southgate's side would actually be better off finishing second rather than top as it could see them avoid a potential quarter-final against Brazil. The goal will most definitely be remembered even though the rest of the game may not be!

Martinez has hailed the pleasure his whole squad have been taking on the pitch and has worked to build a team spirit where clashes of egos bedeviled the Belgians under his predecessor Marc Wilmots at the last World Cup and at Euro 2016.

It's not the end of the World Cup journey, though, as we finished as runner-up in the group stages, and are through to the knockout stages.

In all these discussions, there is a danger of assuming progression from the Round of 16 before a ball has been kicked in anger. It's one of the reasons why we did what we did [against Belgium], to give ourselves the best possible opportunity of doing that.

The legendary footballer will support England at the 2018 world Cup.

Januzaj has often been accused of coasting through his career and potentially wasting the huge talent he was born with, but on a night when most of his teammates and opponents were taking it easy, the former Manchester United winger showed he can still make his mark at the top level.

"This was a game we wanted to win but the knockout game is the biggest game for a decade for us so needed to make sure our key players were reserved", he told ITV after the match.

"Because of the next rounds and the opposing teams you are going to meet".

"Winning the World Cup on 15 July would be an unanswerable response". Colombia awaited the second placed team; as well as Japan for the group victor. Totally accept it could backfire terribly.

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England barely seemed troubled by losing.

It is essentially a tally of red and yellow cards for each team. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had not played a club match since September, centre-back Jerome Boateng had not been convincing for Bayern Munich and midfielder Mesut Ozil had a poor campaign for Arsenal.

Both countries were assured of progressing to the knockout stages and made a raft of changes to put out what were largely second-string sides.

Photo Gareth Southgate wants to keep experiencing that winning feeling.

"Kane can hurt us", he said. "That should make him incredibly proud, but he also knows the team is the most important thing and we have to make decisions that are right for the team".

She said: "I think we can win it - I've never seen us play so well".

"We want to breed a mentality that everybody in our squad wants to constantly win".

Belgium nearly drew first blood after 10 minutes when England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford somehow spilled the ball after falling on it, leading to a goalmouth scramble before one of his defenders cleared the ball off the line.

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