Marcus Rashford’s penalty and a deflected strike from Mason Mount helped England come from a goal down to overcome top-ranked Belgium 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday and climb above them in their UEFA Nations League group
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for the visitors from the penalty spot in the 16th minute after being brought down by a lunging tackle from England’s Eric Dier. It was the Inter Milan striker’s 13th goal in his last 11 matches for his country.
The Belgians pressed forward, with Yannick Carrasco and Kevin de Bruyne finding space and time to create seven shots on goal to England’s two in the first half.
Part of England’s struggle to make opportunities stemmed from manager Gareth Southgate fielding a five-man back line, and perhaps from his decision to leave midfielder Jack Grealish – man-of-the-match for his creative efforts in a midweek 3-0 friendly win over Wales – on the bench.
Nevertheless, when England won a corner late in the half, Belgium’s Thomas Meunier clumsily pulled down the hosts’ captain Jordan Henderson to concede a penalty.
Rashford converted from the spot to register his 11th goal in an England shirt.
England then picked up the pace in the second half and got their reward through Mount in the 64th minute with a shot that took a heavy deflection off the boot of Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld, looping over keeper Simon Mignolet into the far corner of the net.
“It doesn’t matter how they go in. I found myself with a bit of space in the box and only had one thing on my mind, to get the ball out of my body and shoot. A big deflection, but you’ll take them,” Mount told Sky Sports.
Despite Belgium pushing forward repeatedly, England kept their shape and ran the clock down to record a win that put them on seven points in the Nations League group to Belgium’s six.
“They made it tough for us, we were hanging in there at halftime, we got back into it at 1-1, and we knew we could regroup then, talk about the things we could do better, and fix the problems we were having,” Mount said.
“We’ve got the mentality, we’ve got the work ethic to get better and better and that’s the path we’re on.”