ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — For Belgium and England, the third-place match at the World Cup was more like a dress rehearsal for future finals.
At least they hope.
The Belgians earned their best World Cup finish by beating England 2-0 on Saturday in a match both saw as the start of a push for the European Championship title in 2020 or the World Cup in 2022.
“With this winning mentality you can win trophies,” said Eden Hazard, who scored Belgium’s second goal. “In two years, in four years, we will be better. We have young players. They are very good also in the team. They push all of us.”
Thomas Meunier and Hazard both scored at St. Petersburg Stadium in a match between the two semifinal losers.
France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The French beat Belgium on Tuesday in the semifinals, while the Croats defeated England on Wednesday.
England matched its best World Cup result — fourth in 1990 — since winning the tournament for the only time in 1966.
“Today shows there’s room for improvement. We’re not the finished article. We’re still learning. We’re still getting better,” England striker Harry Kane said. “We don’t want to wait another 20-odd years to get into another major semifinal.”