England vs Panama, World Cup 2018: Why late consolation goal could come to benefit Gareth Southgate’s side

England shouldn't be too upset about the late goal they conceded to Panama

Sunday 24 June 2018 15:45
Fans celebrate England World Cup goal at Isle of Wight festival

England didn’t celebrate it at the time – but Gareth Southgate and co may well come to be grateful for Panama’s late consolation goal in their Group G match.

The Three Lions were six goals up and coasting when substitute Felipe Baloy netted the Central Americans' first ever goal at the finals.

The late goal means England and Group G rivals Belgium are level on points, goal difference and goals scored ahead of their crucial meeting in Kaliningrad next Thursday. So in the event of a draw, the group winners will be decided on Fifa fair play rules, as explained here.

But England may well come to thank Baloy for his late goal.

The consolation drastically increases the likelihood of England finishing behind Belgium as group runners-up, which would lead to them facing a potentially easier set of fixtures than if they had have won.

Coming second would likely lead to a Round of 16 game against Senegal before a quarter-final against Mexico or Serbia.

But topping the group would lead to a tricky game against either Poland or Colombia, before a meeting with tournament favourites Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Either way, Southgate's men sealed progress to the last 16 with a 6-1 demolition that will have put their rivals on notice

Things finally appear to be looking up for an England side who were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016 and eliminated with a game to spare at the 2014 World Cup.

They secured progress to the knockout phase with a thrilling World Cup win that will live long in the memory as Harry Kane's hat-trick complemented John Stones' brace and a Jesse Lingard stunner against shambolic Panama.

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