The Latest: Belgium 1-0 at halftime in 3rd-place playoff
MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Saturday at the World Cup (all times local):
5: 47 p.m.
Belgium has taken a 1-0 lead into halftime in its World Cup third-place playoff against England.
Thomas Meunier gave the Belgians the lead in the fourth minute, scoring from close range off a cross from Nacer Chadli.
Belgium could have made it 2-0 seven minutes later when Kevin de Bruyne took the ball in a good position but goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a key save.
England started the game slowly, looking every inch a team which was taken to extra time in its semifinal loss to Croatia three days earlier, despite making five changes to the starting lineup.
Harry Kane, the tournament’s leading scorer, had England’s best chance but shot wide after losing his footing.
Thomas Meunier has given Belgium a 1-0 lead over England in the World Cup third-place playoff.
A quick and direct Belgian attack in the fourth minute ended with Nacer Chadli crossing from the left wing to Meunier, who beat Danny Rose to the ball and shot past Jordan Pickford in goal.
It’s the first goal of the tournament for Meunier in five games. He is the 10th goal scorer for Belgium in this tournament, helping his team equal a record held by Italy (2006) and France (1982).
Belgium is aiming for its best-ever World Cup finish, beating fourth place in 1986.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Phil Jones will start for England in the World Cup third-place game against Belgium among five changes made by coach Gareth Southgate.
There’s also a start for Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and Danny Rose. Harry Kane, the tournament’s leading scorer, remains in the lineup following the World Cup semifinal loss to Croatia.
The players dropped to the bench are Ashley Young, Kyle Walker and the central midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli.
Belgium had a day’s extra rest after its semifinal loss to France, and coach Roberto Martinez has made just two changes.
Thomas Meunier and Youri Tielemans will start in the Belgian midfield in place of Marouane Fellaini and Moussa Dembele.
England: Jordan Pickford, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Phil Jones, Fabian Delph, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Thomas Meunier, Youri Tielemans, Nacer Chadli.
Croatia captain Luka Modric believes the toughness of his World Cup squad has some roots in the war that broke up the former Yugoslavia.
On the eve of the soccer World Cup final against France, Modric has been reluctant to go too deeply into answering a question from a reporter who identified himself as a war correspondent from the 1990s, when Croatia became an independent state.
The question was about “how this war forged the spirit of yourself and of the team.”
The 32-year-old Modric was a child when his grandfather was killed and his family forced from its home. He replied by saying “I don’t like to go back to these things. It’s all in the past.”
He adds “Of course, everything influences you. It’s made us resilient as people, as the nation.”
Croatia has spent the maximum amount of time on the field at this World Cup. The team playing extra-time in all three knockout games, and trailed to the first goal scored each time.
Modric has covered more yards than any player at the World Cup, registering 63.03 kilometers (39 miles) in six games, according to FIFA.
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