England were not aiming for victory against Belgium - Southgate

Lucia Loi and Marcus Rashford look loved-up in this cute pic

Lucia Loi and Marcus Rashford look loved-up in this cute pic

Entering the game on identical points and goals records - after each opened with two successive wins -England had the edge on its fair play record at the top of Group G.

England made eight changes to the team who crushed Panama 6-1 but the uninspiring performance against Belgium highlighted that their options on the bench are not as rich as believed.

A brilliant 51st-minute strike from Januzaj was enough to give Belgium the victory and claim top spot in Group G, to set up a clash with Japan in Rostov.

"I think it will be an interesting game, a 50-50 game, and both teams are qualified so it will be a unusual game", said Fellaini, who plays in England for Manchester United, having made his name for another Premier League club Everton.

"At the moment we are qualified and I think that was the priority that we were chasing for", Martinez said.

"We want to win football matches and we also know the big game is the knockout tie to come, so it was hard to balance all of those".

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"If we'd put Harry on for 10 minutes and someone had raked his ankle, that would have been ridiculous".

"We know that depending on which players we pick in certain positions, we just have a different profile of threat".

"It was a good test for us and of course we had double objectives tonight with half an eye on the knockout. It was disappointing to lose the game, but we have lost nothing". If that is the case then England will be happier with the result at the end of the day but can any team really go out and aim to get beaten?

"So, everybody knows that the most important game is the knockout game".

England fans inside the stadium before the match.

"When you're a leader and a manager, you have got to make decisions that are right for your group and are right for the primary objective", the Three Lions boss said. He fills you with confidence no matter what decision is made. Our objective was to qualify from the group and we have done that.

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With 35 Premier League players from the 2017/18 campaign playing for either England or Belgium during the World Cup there will be plenty of familiar faces on show.

Both Belgium and England should expect to reach the quarterfinals, but don't be all that surprised if one - or both of them - don't.

"So, I had to balance that".

"If you start thinking any further than that I think you're risking a lot".

Rashford dipped a free kick over the crossbar and Fellaini's block flew past the upright as England chased an equaliser, but it was Belgium who came closest to a second as Pickford parried a long-range drive from substitute Dries Mertens late on.

It could make for a surreal contest on Friday, with both bosses expected to ring the changes and protect players from potential suspensions. A collection of sides sufficiently intimidating that in the first half, Roberto Martinez seemed not to want to win, his team counter-attacking with all the speed of a 1967 Volga negotiating the foothills of the Urals.

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Poland has now failed to keep a clean sheet in its last 10 World Cup matches, since beating Portugal 1-0 in 1986. The South Americans go into the final game knowing a win against Senegal will book them a place in the last 16.

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