Doha: A goal apiece from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka helped England to an impressive 3-0 win over African champions Senegal and move into the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup.
On Sunday at the Al Bayt Stadium, Gareth Southgate’s side went into the half time break leading 2-0, opening the scoring in the 38th minute and adding a second in injury stoppage time of the opening session.
England netted a third one 13 minutes into the second half to take the game away from Aliou Cisse’s side and set up a quarter-final clash with France, which earlier on Sunday defeated Poland 3-1.
England and France have met twice before at the World Cup, both in group games which England won 2-0 en route to the 1966 title and 3-1 in 1982 and thus France will be looking for a positive result when the two meet on Sunday December 10 at Al Bayt Stadium.
Two other teams, Netherlands and Argentina which have already qualified, on Saturday, for the last-eight stage will clash on December 9 at Lusail Stadium.
Two more teams will join the already qualified four after Monday’s clashes between Portugal vs Switzerland and Spain vs Morocco.
On Sunday, England made just one change for the game as Bukayo Saka was preferred in attack to three-goal scoring Marcus Rashford, while Raheem Sterling was unavailable for England, as he was dealing with some family issues back home. Saka, who netted a brace against Iran, was rested against Wales, where Rashford also scored twice in a 3-0 victory. Southgate also preferred to retain Phil Foden and Henderson in the side.
Both teams were rather circumspect at the start, but once the nerves wore off they elected to be more positive. Senegal, for certain periods of the first half, looked to be the more threatening as they sent in attack after attack.
Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal, without their injured superstar Sadio Mane, will lament missing big chances from Ismaila Sarr and Bouyale Dia when the score was 0-0.
England seemed to be temporarily on the back foot in the face of the growing pressure from Senegal very early in the first half.
The African champions kept to a higher line, but the European side were well placed for a counter when the opportunity presented itself.
England looked primed for the counter whenever Senegal afforded them a chance, making their two opportunities count to giving them a decent lead going into the half time break.
Southgate boys opened the doors of the Senegal defence with Bellingham making a strong run into the box on the left side, Kane sent in a pass to the midfielder, who coolly slotted the ball past Edouardo Mendy and into the net.
England added a second one three minutes into injury stoppage time with Kane’s right footed shot from inside the box to the centre of the goal ending in the back of the nets, after set up by Phil Foden following a fast break.
England doubled the lead in a move which started from their own half, went on a blistering run towards the Senegal goal, closed in, spotted Foden on his left side, with Kane not too far on his right. The Manchester City forward seeing Kane peeling away from his marker sends in a quick pass with the last named player able to get enough space inside of the box to send in a powerful shot at the net, with Mendy having no chance of stopping it.
For Kane, the Golden Boot winner at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with six goals, it was his first goal in Qatar’s World Cup and one which took him within one goal away from Wayne Rooney’s England record 53 goals.
The Tottenham forward was in fine form at Al Khor Stadium along with teenager Bellingham who had played a starring role in the first two goals, and Foden, who had two assists.
Senegal have made three substitutions at the start of the second half with Papa Gueye, Cheikh Dieng, Papa Sarr coming on in place of Ndiaye, Ciss and Diata with England going unchanged into the second half.
England put the issue beyond doubt with Saka’s left footed shot from the centre of the box of a move by Foden effectively dismissing their slim hopes of fighting back in the second half.
Here are the remaining last 16 fixtures at the Qatar World Cup (times in GMT):
* Monday December 5
Japan v Croatia, Al Wakrah (1500)
Brazil v South Korea, Doha (1900)
* Tuesday December 6
Morocco v Spain, Doha (1600)
Portugal v Switzerland, Lusail (1900)