England disappoint fans in Russia with defeat in final World Cup group match
England captain Harry Kane and star players Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Jordan Henderson were rested against a weakened Belgium team.
England fans refused to rest even if many of the national side’s first team were on the sidelines as the Three Lions World Cup group stage ended with a whimper against Belgium.
The largest contingent of England fans of the tournament so far packed into the 33,900-seater Kaliningrad Stadium and created a wall of noise until England went 1-0 down.
England captain Harry Kane and star players Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Jordan Henderson were rested against a weakened Belgium team, amid pre-match debate over whether it was more beneficial to finish second in the group and earn a potentially easier route to the final.
But England’s players disappointed many fans in Kaliningrad who wanted to keep the winning run going, as the Three Lions ran out 1-0 losers.
Robert Blundell, 49, from Worcester, left early with his son Thomas, 20.
He said: “I genuinely feel I’ve been made a fool of because he changed the team so much.
“You’ve got to win every game.
“You’ve got to keep momentum, play strikers when they are hot.
“You’ve got to play them all to win.
“I’ve been watching England away for 20 years and it’s the first time I’ve come away feeling I’ve been made a fool of.
“I’ve got a ticket for the final but I think I’ll be getting a refund.”
Michael Milner, 23, from Hope Valley, in Derbyshire, was able to look on the bright side of the result, which meant England will play their next match in Moscow.
“We’ve got an easier route to the final and it’ll save us a hundred quid flight from Moscow to Rostov,” he said.
“Ruben Loftus-Cheek was quality in the second half.
“Me and a friend have got tickets for round of 16, quarters and semi if England get there.
“I’m as positive as I was before the game.”
Josh McVeigh was also remaining positive despite the defeat.
The 25-year-old, from Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, still believed “100%” England could go all the way.
He said: “There’s two teams with not a lot to play for – it wasn’t as good as the last two but it was all right.
“It also proved Belgium’s strength in depth is a lot better than ours – their second team is a lot better than ours.
“I know it was only Panama but that was England’s record ever World Cup win so we’ve got to be optimistic, haven’t we really?
“We’ll take Colombia I think.”
But Aidan Lill, 27, from Hull, East Yorkshire, was disappointed with England’s effort on the pitch.
He said: “I think both the teams were fairly evenly matched.
“Either team could have won it and I think we just wanted it less.
“I’ve got a ticket for the final but I really don’t think we will get there.”
The Football Association sold out its allocation of 3,003, with the number of tickets sold to fans with UK addresses by Fifa amounting to 3,360 more.
With up to 6,363 England supporters in the stadium, the Three Lions support outnumbered their Belgian opponents, who made up 4,139.
Having made their presence felt in the centre of Kaliningrad throughout the day, singing and posing for photos with locals, the England support appeared to take over one end of the stadium.
Flags from all corners of the country were draped from the top tier, including Exeter, Barnsley, Hull and Brentford.
Spontaneous renditions of the national anthem punctuated an otherwise unremarkable first-half.
But the crowd was deflated after Belgium went 1-0 up as the prospect of facing Colombia in the last 16 dawned.