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England fail to reach Nations League finals after Belgium defeat

England's Conor Coady (R) celebrates with team-mate Dominic Calvert-Lewin (L)

England’s hopes of qualifying for the Nations League finals were ended by defeat against Belgium in Leuven.

Gareth Southgate’s side had plenty of possession against the world’s top-ranked side but were toothless in attack and ultimately undone by two early goals.

Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans opened the scoring after 10 minutes when his 20-yard shot took a deflection off Tyrone Mings, and Dries Mertens doubled their advantage 13 minutes later with a superb free-kick after Declan Rice was harshly adjudged to have fouled Kevin de Bruyne.

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Belgium’s second came after Romelu Lukaku had headed off the line brilliantly from Harry Kane, and while England spent much of the second half in their opponents’ half, they were unable to fashion the opportunities to work their way back into contention.

Defeat means England will not reach the finals after finishing third in 2019, when the inaugural showpiece was held in Portugal.

In the other match in group A2, Christian Eriksen scored twice to give Denmark a 2-1 victory over Iceland.

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