Gary Neville makes bold England World Cup claim

ENGLAND WAGS

England's first defeat at the World Cup was met with divided opinion in the British media, with some satisfied by it achieving potentially easier route deeper into the tournament while others rued the loss of momentum.

There was a odd feeling around the game as both teams were already assured of progress to the last 16, with talk about the best path to the final compounded by a combined 17 changes.

Football fans on Wearside were brought back down to Earth as a poor performance from England saw them lose their final group stage game of the World Cup.

Before the Belgium defeat, England won their previous two games, beating Panama 6-1, and nabbing a 2-1 lead against Tunisia.

With both managers making wholesale changes having already secured qualification from the group, the two teams played with so little intensity during the first half that they were booed and jeered by local fans inside the ground at half-time. The match will also be livestreamed in Spanish on TelemundoDeportes.com and via the Telemundo Deportes En Vivo and NBC Sports apps.

Some of the positivity which had been building up around the England team was lost with this performance - lacking in the excitement of the previous matches in Russian Federation.

Januzaj was a child prodigy at Manchester United and was once earmarked for an England place through naturalized citizenship, but on Thursday he proved the difference for Belgium in a vital win over The Three Lions.

Don't tell me that path is less complicated than Belgium's expected meetings with Japan, Brazil and whoever else it could meet in Saint Petersburg.

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Adnan Januzaj celebrates after scoring the only goal of Belgium's 1-0 win over England on Thursday.

As England move into the World Cup knockout stage, what are the lessons of their setback in Kaliningrad? I don't think it would be professional of us to put those players at a risk of missing the knockout phase.

If England win in Moscow, it will be a case of no harm done and they can march on to a winnable World Cup quarter-final against either Sweden or Switzerland.

Of course, one team always was going to win the group, even if it came down to disciplinary record (Belgium had earned one more yellow card than England coming into the game).

"We want to perform well but I think the priority is not to win", he said.

Belgium's side of the draw includes Argentina, Brazil, Portugal and France while England's opponents are, on paper, easier and they face less traveling should they progress. Goalless by half-time, the players were jeered off. Supporters had travelled from far and at great expense to see this and they were being short-changed, by all the changes.

"And, yeah, maybe we could have pushed a bit more by putting other players into the game tonight, but we still created chances, we had one absolutely fantastic chance to tie the game". "Remember, we made nine changes". So now, they are ready to face anyone, after Japan next Monday (Jul 4).

Russia's no-show against Uruguay, the first decent side it faced, made clear it wasn't unexpected world beaters.

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