England 2 Belgium 1 – Three Lions come from behind
2020-21 UEFA Nations League – Matchday 3 of 6 Report – Saturday, October 11, 2020
England 2 Belgium 1 – GROUP A2 – Wembley stadium, London
Three Lions come from behind to beat world-leaders Belgium
Gareth Southgate's England came from behind at Wembley to beat FIFA No.1 side Belgium and move to the top of the Group A2 table.
A deflected shot from Mason Mount made all the difference in an unexpected 2-1 win over a very fancied Belgian side.
The Three Lions played mostly with their backs to the wall in the first half and almost went down to a goal early in the 13th minute when Yannick Carrasco hit a low shot past English goalie Jordan Pickford.
However it was ruled offside as replays showed Thomas Meunier being caught ahead of the English defense in the build up.
A needless challenge by Eric Dier on an onrushing Romelu Lukaku inside the box in the 16th minute gave Belgium a penalty which the ex-United striker converted with ease.
With the visitors to the Wembley dominating proceedings, England got a lifeline just 6 minutes before half-time when Jordan Henderson was brought down in the box by Meunier who placed a hand on the Liverpool midfielder's shoulder while dealing with a corner kick.
Rashford, who was honoured by the Queen with an MBE on Friday, stepped up to take the penalty, slotting it high into the left corner to draw his side level.
Incidentally the Rashford spot-kick was England's first shot on target in the game up to that point.
Belgium could have gone into half-time a goal-up when a Lukaku's back-heel pass found Carrasco through on goal, but the Atletico Madrid winger inexplicably lashed his effort wide of Pickford's right-hand post.
England were a transformed side post the break as they garnered more possession for a change.
Their efforts were rewarded although there was a slice of luck in it. Mason Mount in trying to curl a shot around the Belgium defense found a deflection off Toby Alderweireld and saw the ball loop over Belgian goalie Simon Mignolet into the net.
It was 2-1 in the 64th for the hosts. Substitute Harry Kane, introduced after an hour by Southgate, could have put the game beyond the visitors' reach when his glancing downward header from a Henderson corner just missed the far post.
Belgium did tried to equalize with Yannick Carrasco flicking Kevin de Bruyne's brilliant pass inches wide of the far post late on.
But England hung on to register a significant win.
The only consolation Belgian coach Roberto Martinez can take is that he was without some of his key players like Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Dries Mertens but he will be dismayed by the manner his team slackened up after England equalized.
On the other hand, the England win will of course give Southgate real satisfaction in contrast to similar outings in the past against elite opposition where his side had been found wanting.
England starting line-up: Pickford (goal), Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Dier, Maguire, Trippier, Rice, Henderson, Mount, Rashford, Calvert-Lewin
Subs: Phillips, Kane, James, Sancho
Belgium starting line-up: Mignolet (goal), Alderweireld, Denayer, Boyatam, Meunier, Castagne, Witsel, Tielemans, De Bruyne, Carrasco, Lukaku
Subs: Verschaeren, Doku
Man of the match: Mason Mount
This is only the fourth time the Belgians have conceded defeat from 47 games under Martinez (W36/D7/L4), and for the first time since November 2018 when they had lost to Switzerland.
England have beaten Belgium in a competitive fixture for only the second time from four previous outings (D2 L2), with the last win coming in the 1990 Italy World Cup.