Marcus Rashford fails to take opportunity as England fall flat against Belgium
Adnan Januzaj scored the only goal as the Belgians claimed top spot in Group G.
Marcus Rashford returned to England’s starting line-up as one of eight changes Gareth Southgate made for the 1-0 defeat to Belgium in their final group game.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at whether the Manchester United striker did enough to keep his place in the side for the knockout stages.
Rashford is a skilful, direct runner with the ball at his feet and has an eye for a spectacular goal, but is also prepared to put a shift in for his team-mates. One 20-yard sprint to cover back and block an attempted pass by Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen in the first half at the Kaliningrad Stadium demonstrated this. He was always willing to run the hard yards.
Inevitably after so many changes, England were not as fluent as they had been in spells during their first two matches and his partnership with Jamie Vardy rarely clicked. Rashford’s first-half cross for Vardy was an inch too high, while he was guilty of one or two misplaced passes. But he linked up well down the left with Danny Rose and made more telling runs for his team-mates in the second half.
Rashford wasted a golden chance to equalise in the 66th minute having been sent clear by Vardy, but when one-on-one with Thibault Courtois failed to get enough bend on his right-footed effort from just inside the penalty area and the big Belgium goalkeeper got the faintest of fingertips on the ball to deflect it for a corner. The England forward should have scored. He was not too far off target though with a dipping free-kick in the 81st minute.
Rashford’s influence on the game was affected by England’s inability to find any rhythm and build momentum. Rashford squandered his only clear chance and fired a half-chance high and wide in the first period. When Danny Welbeck replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold, Rashford was switched to right wing-back and had little influence going forward for the rest of the match. Southgate is likely to keep him on the bench as an impact player against Colombia on Tuesday.