England striker Harry Kane became the country’s second ever World Cup Golden Boot winner this summer, emulating Gary Linekar’s achievement in the 1986 tournament in Mexico. However, his final performance against Belgium proved that he should have been given a rest by Gareth Southgate.
There is no doubt that Kane deserved the award, with his closest challenger being Manchester United Striker Romelu Lukaku on just four goals, but his worry that he would be overtaken and his pursuit of individual accolades was surely why he was included in the starting line-up against Belgium in the third-place playoff.
Kane scored five of his goals in the group stage and added another from the penalty spot in the round of 16 against Colombia, but then failed to score in the following three fixtures as England went out in the semi-final to a spirited Croatia comeback.
Kane may well have been carrying an injury against Belgium as England fell to a 2-0 defeat thanks to goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard, although he was not even substituted during the game despite his lack of impact.
Finishing the game with no shots on target and no key passes, Kane epitomised an England performance that improved slightly in the second half but never threatened Thibaut Courtois in the Belgium goal.
A relatively unimportant game, the playoff was a chance for Southgate to rotate his squad but the boss stuck with his captain and Sterling upfront rather than starting Vardy and Rashford.
Kane has also clearly had a fantastic season, scoring an incredible 41 goals in 48 matches in all competitions for Spurs. However, the strains of the season caught up with him against Belgium as the Three Lions’ main-man was limited to just 26 touches – the same as goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.