Belgium beat England in the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday to ensure their best-ever finish as tournament top scorer Harry Kane admitted his side need to improve if they are to end their long trophy drought.
Goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard secured a deserved 2-0 victory in Saint Petersburg and meant Belgium bettered their performance at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where they finished fourth.
Belgium, who suffered a painful 1-0 defeat to France in the semi-finals, also beat Gareth Southgate’s England in the first round in Russia on their way to topping the group before beating Japan and Brazil.
“It’s all about the achievement. This is Belgium’s best finish at a World Cup. The players deserve that and they wanted to make the country proud,” said coach Roberto Martinez said.
Southgate’s men were forced to settle for England’s joint-best performance at a World Cup abroad, matching that of the 1990 generation in Italy.
Tottenham’s Kane remains the overwhelming favourite to win the Golden Boot with six goals, although he admitted his frustration at failing to find the net in England’s final three games
He said despite England’s run to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Croatia, the young team are still not the finished article.
“We closed it for sure (the gap to the top teams),” he said. “But today shows, and some other games show, that there is still room for improvement.”
“Obviously I’m disappointed I couldn’t get a goal in the last few games,” added the Tottenham Hotspur striker, who is aiming to become just the second England player after Gary Lineker in 1986 to win the Golden Boot.
“Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesn’t. But if I win it, it’ll be something I’ll be very proud of.”