Belfast Telegraph

Three Lions' roar quietens but Southgate's men remain in defiant mood


By Robert Jones

England are disappointed following their 1-0 defeat against Belgium but are happy to progress regardless of their position, according to Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Liverpool right-back made his competitive England debut as the Three Lions jostled with Belgium to decide who finishes at the top of Group G.

Belgium topped the group with a win and face Japan in the next round, and England will come up against Colombia, but have an arguably easier run through to the final.

Ahead of the game Gareth Southgate played down claims that England would prefer finishing second and Alexander-Arnold said that they are happy to still be in the tournament irrespective of who they play.

"I'm very disappointed. We want to win it but we're still in the last 16 and we have to look forward to it," said Alexander-Arnold. "Belgium controlled a lot of possession but we had our chances and didn't take them.

"It was a good goal but we can only regret the chances we didn't take. We're out of the group stages though and that was our first aim.

"We weren't focused on any of that before the game," he said when asked whether England have a better draw finishing second.

"Everyone is disappointed now. You don't want to see smiles in the changing rooms. You want to win every game."

England will play Colombia on Tuesday in the round of 16 although it could have been different but for a dramatic end to Group H. Colombia were facing elimination from the tournament but their win against Senegal, combined with Poland's 1-0 victory against Japan, meant they qualified as group winners.

"Everyone who is in the last 16 deserves to be there.

"They are all tough teams," Alexander-Arnold said.

"Colombia did unbelievably well in the last World Cup and they have already shown this year they can bounce back from defeats so it won't be easy."

The winner of England vs Colombia will go on to play either Sweden or Switzerland, then face Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark in the semi-final.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said: "The victory is a consequence of a very good performance.

"You cannot plan the ideal scenario, you've seen big nations already eliminated.

"We need to look at ourselves, we are a stronger group than we were before the game. We're facing Japan, we've got to be ready."

Southgate reflected: "None of us know if this side of the draw is advantageous or not. What we have to do is prepare for a thrilling knockout game.

"Our objective was to qualify from the group and we have done that.

"Sometimes, you have to make decisions with the bigger picture, and that's what I did tonight."

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