Belgium: When a goal hurts a little…
Rarely has the joy of a World Cup victory been as restrained as Belgium’s 1-0 win over England in Kaliningrad on Thursday evening. The Red Devils overtook the Three Lions in the final table and entered the Round of 16 as group winners. A reason to rejoice, but Belgium now face travel hardships and a possibly tougher opponent in the round of 16. It was twice as painful for striker Michy Batshuayi, who had an extraordinary experience when scoring the winning goal.
The high level promised on paper by the pairing Belgium v England did not hold the match. There were two reasons for this: On the one hand, both coaches spun through. Nine new players appeared for the Red Devils, eight for the Three Lions. Secondly, second place in Group G was much more attractive. In a possible quarter-final, Sweden or Switzerland would wait instead of Brazil or Mexico. Added to this are travel strains: the group victory route (Kaliningrad – Rostov – Kazan, 2726 kilometres) to the quarter-finals is considerably longer than the route of the group second (Kaliningrad – Moscow – Samara, 1945 kilometres). In addition, the first one takes part one day before the second, so the primus lacks one day for regeneration.
However, Adnan Januzaj’s winning goal made the Rode Duivels happy. The 23-year-old from Real Sociedad San Sebastian stroked the ball with a lot of feeling in the left angle (51st). A hit from the “Unstoppable” brand. While the scorer sprinted to the corner flag cheering, team-mate Batshuayi came up with a very special celebration: The 24-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker grabbed the ball, thundered it to the post in exuberance, from where the ball rebounded immediately. Right in his face.
Batshuayi: “Why am I so stupid?”
“Fortnite cheers are so overrated, I had to create something new,” the attacker joked afterwards on Twitter in the style of a video game and took his accidental goal cheering with a lot of humor: “Why am I so stupid? “The moment I checked my links, I knew I was being kidded.”