Tottenham’s Belgians pip club colleagues in England team to third spot
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Toby Alderweireld played his part to deny five of his Spurs team-mates a chance of finishing third in Russia
Eight Tottenham Hotspur players featured in the third/fourth-place play-off at the World Cup on Saturday and it was the Belgians at Spurs celebrating after beating five of their club colleagues in the England team 2-0.
Both had hoped to take part in Sunday’s showpiece event, but after reflecting on the disappointing of losing in the semi-finals, were keen to leave Russia with a top-three finish.
Surprisingly, Roberto Martinez and Gareth Southgate picked strong teams for the St Petersburg clash.
Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen both started for Belgium, while Harry Kane captained England and was joined in the starting XI by Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose and Eric Dier.
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Unfortunately for the Three Lions full-backs, they were involved in the opening goal of the game which went to the Red Devils after four minutes.
Trippier was unable to block Nacer Chadli’s cross and Thomas Meunier got ahead of Rose too easily to deflect the ball home.
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After such a poor start, England eventually regrouped and went close when Dier passed into Raheem Sterling and he laid off for Kane.
The captain could only drag his effort wide from 17-yards and it almost came back to haunt him straight away when Belgium went close again minutes later.
A corner wasn’t properly cleared and Alderweireld hooked the ball over the crossbar from eight-yards.
It was the last significant chance of the first half and England came out fighting after the interval.
Kane was inches away from converting Jesse Lingard’s cross-cum-shot as the Three Lions looked for a way back into the match.
A Spurs man very nearly produced it when Dier brought the ball forward excellently and played a one-two with Marcus Rashford.
With only Thibaut Courtois to beat, the Tottenham midfielder elegantly chipped over the Belgium goalkeeper, but out of nowhere Alderweireld slide in to clear off the line.
For England, it was a pivotal moment as they continued to push for a leveller, but were picked off with 82 on the clock.
A fast break saw Eden Hazard played through and he fired past Jordan Pickford to give Belgium a third-placed finish.
Dele Alli was introduced by Southgate soon after and with Mousa Dembele already on the pitch, it meant all eight Spurs players in the England and Belgium squad had got some action in the third/fourth-place play-off fixture.
Speaking to Press Association Sport after the match, Alderweireld discussed his key clearance to deny club colleague Dier, when the score was only 1-0.
He said: “I spoke to him after and I said ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry’ but it was very good play from him. He did everything perfectly, but unfortunately for him I was in the right place.”