England failed to qualify for the Nations League Finals after losing 2 – 0 to number one ranked side Belgium.
Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans opened the scoring in the 10th minute. His drive from outside the box took a deflection on route to beat Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Belgium dominated the early stages and their quality paid off fourteen minutes later. Kevin de Bruyne was hacked down on the edge of the box, resulting in a free kick.
Napoli’s Dries Mertens converted excellently over the wall and into the far left corner. Pickford’s positioning was questionable, as he began the set piece standing to the right of the goal.
England’s performance improved markedly in the second half, but they couldn’t make it count. Chances on goal were few and far between.
The ball was worked smartly to Harry Kane on the edge of the box, but his tame shot was easy for Courtois.
Belgium held England at arms length, and saw out the 2 – 0 victory without much trouble. One positive for England on the night was the eye catching performance of Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grielish.
The fervor for Jack Grielish to start for England has been building since the summer. Grealish has had to work hard to convince manager Gareth Southgate, but it appears he is finally making his mark on the national team.
“We don’t like losing but enormous credit to the team,” said Southgate.
“All the way through they created problems and defended resiliently. I thought we were excellent. I couldn’t have enough praise for the players.
“We had a different profile of players but in those positions, I thought Jack Grealish had an absolutely outstanding game. Losing Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, we lose a lot of speed. But I can’t fault the attacking play until the last chance.”