Belgium's Thomas Meunier. Fatih Aktas-Anadolu Agency-Getty Images
Getty Images

Thomas Meunier scored in the opening minutes and Eden Hazard added a goal late as Belgium defeated England 2-0 in the World Cup’s third-place game in St. Petersburg.

The victory meant Belgium, who lost to France in the semifinals on Tuesday, secured their best finish at a World Cup after having been defeated in the third-place game in 1986.

Meunier scored in the fourth minute after Romelu Lukaku opened the England defence and he turned in Nacer Chadli’s low cross from six yards.

It was the earliest goal ever scored by Belgium in a World Cup match, and it made Meunier, an unused substitute in the teams’ group-stage game on June 28, the 10th player to score a goal for Belgium in the competition, matching a record held by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

Hazard then capped the scoring in the 82nd minute with his third goal of the World Cup when he collected a feed from Kevin De Bruyne that deflected off Phil Jones’ right heel and calmly finished past Jordan Pickford in the bottom left corner.

England, who were defeated by Croatia in their semifinal, matched their fourth-place finish from 1990.

Their best chance in the first half was a strike by Harry Kane that went wide in the 22nd minute, and then in the 70th minute, Eric Dier’s chip over Thibaut Courtois was swept away at the goal line by Toby Alderweireld.

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