World Cup Recap: Third Place

Belgium takes bronze with 2-0 win over England

The World Cup is down to one game. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The third place match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup took place on Saturday. Belgium and England, the two teams who advanced out of Group G, faced off for the bronze medal.

Belgium 2-0 England

Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg
Attendance: 64,406

After feeling out of the game in the opening minutes, Belgium connected on a counter attack to take the lead just four minutes in. Thomas Meunier was the goalscorer that gave Belgium leverage. England generated opportunities to get back in the match but their struggle was to get quality shots on target. Maguire did not get enough power to his header on a corner in the 20th minute while Kane was less than clinical on a 23rd minute opportunity. Belgium and England were about even on first half opportunities, with the goal being the difference.

England’s better opportunities in the second half came through the air but would struggle to find the target. The Three Lions were the more proactive side, understandably so given the deficit. In the end, quality was the answer and Eden Hazard iced the match with Belgium’s second goal in the 82nd minute.

Belgium records highest World Cup finish

After missing out on the final, this is a positive for Belgium. It’s a consolation prize for a talented side that feels they could have had a better finish to this tournament. Even so, the history books will show that this was the most successful side at a FIFA World Cup. It will be interesting to see if Vincent Kompany calls it a career with the national team - what would be the international retirement of a legend. The next focus for this team will be the European Championship in two years.

England finishes fourth, matching their counterparts at Italy 1990

England would have liked to have taken third place but it really would not have made a difference. What this English side did do, however, is regain confidence in the national side. Hopes of a World Cup would not be so farfetched now - if approached correctly. This young side will gain experience and Euro 2020 will be a great test to see their growth ahead of the next World Cup, Qatar 2022.

Notable stat: Thomas Meunier is Belgium’s 10th different goalscorer, matching the record for number of scorers by a single team in a single edition of the tournament.

Programming notes:

Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis will be broadcasting from The Gorgeous Gael (5555 Morningside Dr. Houston, TX 77005) with a two-hour LIVE show, airing on ESPN 97.5 FM, following the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

2018 FIFA World Cup Final (All Times CT):

Sunday, July 15

10 a.m. - France vs. Croatia (FOX, Telemundo)

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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