Adnan Januzaj picks up slack left by rested Belgium stars by scoring delightful winner

In a battle of the B teams, Belgium came out comfortably on top. No injuries to speak of and some promising performances, the Red Devils can be extremely satisfied with a 1-0 win over England that sees them top Group G and earn the prize of a round-of-16 match against Japan rather than Colombia.


The result means a marginally easier route from here on in, and three or four players showed that they are more than ready to step into the first XI should they be required. A minor facial injury to Vermaelen aside, no injuries and key players were rested. Lots of positives.


On the negative front, the sprinkling of yellow cards could have been costly had the result been a draw, but that wasn't to be. Not all the starters showed themselves ready for knockout World Cup football, but realistically not all of them need to be.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- On a night when Roberto Martinez said the result "wasn't the priority," he still got the result. Having picked a second-string lineup, a defeat could have come back to haunt him, but he got the three points, rested his stars and saw enough promise on the pitch to buoy him going into the last 16. A very happy manager.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- With no saves to make, Courtois had to amuse himself plucking corners out of the air for fun. So quiet was his night, he may even regret not letting Simon Mignolet have a run out -- but not likely.

DF Leander Dendoncker, 5 -- Some nice passes, especially early on, but weak in the tackle, perhaps unsurprisingly for a young player who only occasionally plays centre-back. A yellow card and free kick conceded early on by the boy could have been punished, and he proceeded to concede two more free kicks in dangerous areas late on as England pressed for an equaliser.

DF Dedryck Boyata, 8 -- One of the standouts for Belgium, playing in the centre of a back three. Strong on the ground, strong in the air, with unfussed if unimaginative passing to his fellow centre-backs whenever he had the ball. Good performance against a second-string team, but still a clean sheet against this Premier League front line will have made this Celtic player very satisfied.

DF Thomas Vermaelen, 6 -- A disappointing night for a player of Vermaelen's quality. Little impact in the first half was followed up with impact of the wrong kind in the second when he took a blow to the face that eventually saw him subbed in the 73rd minute. Never at the races.

MF Nacer Chadli, 5 -- Played as a wing-back, Chadli was another who had an uninspiring game that surely would have been punished by a stronger opposition. If Martinez has a selection headache, it won't be because of Chadli.

MF Marouane Fellaini, 8 -- Strong contender for man of the match. In the first half, Fellaini was at the heart of everything: tackles, interceptions, headers, even a rare non-headed strike on goal that nearly found the net. Faded slightly as the game petered out, but nearly got a goal at the death that his play surely deserved.

MF Mousa Dembele, 7 -- In the first half, Dembele looked like a player who should be starting in the round-of-16 game, such was his strength, passing and calmness mopping up attacks. Faded badly in the second half, though, and is unlikely to have done enough to earn a start against Japan, but can be relied upon if required.

MF Youri Tielemans, 6 -- Started strongly with the best shot of the first half, drawing a strong save from Jordan Pickford. Passed intelligently too, but then seemed to wilt under the tackles and his passing game deserted him. A yellow card didn't help matters, and he looked lightweight for the remainder of the game.

MF Thorgan Hazard, 5 -- Asked to play an unnatural position at wing-back, and it showed. A poor pass early on nearly allowed Jamie Vardy in, and his positioning was poor throughout. Better going forward, as befits a natural attacking midfielder, but shot wildly later on when well placed. One for the future perhaps.

MF Adnan Januzaj, 8 -- A wildcard pick for the squad, but boy did the ex-Manchester United man make the most of his chance. Didn't see a huge amount of the ball but never wasted an opportunity that came his way. His crosses were a threat throughout and he capped it all with a goal worthy of winning far more important games than this. Won't have made himself a starter for the last 16 but has certainly pushed his way up the subs list.

FW Michy Batshuayi, 6 -- Let's hope Batshuayi was given a good meal after the game because he was fed scraps throughout the match. Little service but persevered diligently. A dangerous dribble in the 26th minute nearly led to a breakthrough and he nearly got something for his trouble when the shot from his assist in the 90th minute was just saved.


DF Vincent Kompany, NR -- From coming on in the 73rd minute, Kompany had nothing to do and managed to avoid injury while doing it. A decent half-hour run out that will please both him and his manager.

FW Dries Mertens, NR -- Came on with just five minutes of normal time remaining and still had one of the best shots of the game, a rasping effort in the 88th that stung the hands of the England keeper.