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Football Reporting


Gareth Southgate keeps getting England XI right

AL KHOR, Qatar — England beat Senegal 3-0 at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday as goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka set-up a blockbuster quarterfinal clash with France.

The Three Lions took control of the game towards the end of a cagey first half with Jude Bellingham playing a vital role in both of England’s goals. First, the 19-year-old found Henderson in the box for a simple left-foot finish, and just before the whistle drove forward on the counter-attack to find Phil Foden, who in turn released Kane to smash home his first goal at this World Cup.

After the restart, Foden turned provider again for Saka on 57 minutes before England saw out the final half-hour with the minimum of fuss, reaching the last-eight for the third major tournament in succession.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights & notable moments | Post-game quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Rapid reaction

1. Southgate’s gamble on Henderson pays off (like the rest)

England manager Gareth Southgate’s team selections are the subject of national debate these days given the options at his disposal. But leaving out Marcus Rashford, the two-goal hero against Wales, was probably the headline call on Sunday, and the choice to retain Jordan Henderson in midfield also raised a few eyebrows.

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Henderson has played an important role for England so far at this World Cup, injecting some fresh energy against the United States before starting in the win over Wales last time out — but it was still a surprise he was given the nod over Mason Mount in one of the attacking central midfield positions.

Henderson has long been a reliable and dependable member of the England squad, but he needed 62 caps to score his first international goal, which came in last summer’s Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine. Perhaps Henderson peaks in the knockout rounds too (more of that later).

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England’s third goal scored by Henderson was the apotheosis of another influential display vindicating Southgate’s judgement, just as in the wide areas where the Three Lions manager has the toughest calls. Southgate went with Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka, and both scored.

England may have endured a six-game winless run coming into these finals, but Southgate’s tournament nous has enabled them to render that suspect form a distant memory.

2. Kane on track to peak in the knockout rounds

Harry Kane spoke on Saturday about the work he has done in attempting to peak physically and mentally in the knockout rounds at tournaments after a goal-less group stage in Qatar.

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At the last World Cup four years ago, Kane won the Golden Boot, but five of his six goals came in the group stage and the 29-year-old admitted he felt increasingly fatigued as the competition wore on. Kane scored all three of his Euro 2020 goals last summer in the knockout rounds and he is now off the mark at these finals by finishing a superb counter-attacking move by thrashing a ferocious shot past Edouard Mendy.

Saturday’s clash against France is palpably another step up for England but Southgate’s side will have a better chance if Kane really is tailoring his form to come good at the business end of the tournament.

The Tottenham striker is also now just one goal shy of equalling Wayne Rooney’s international record for England (53).

3. Bellingham thrives on his biggest stage yet

Jude Bellingham was playing in the biggest game of his life but it was impossible to tell, such was the comfort and authority with which he met the task at hand.

After providing the assist for Henderson’s opening goal, the 19-year-old’s most eye-catching contribution was in bursting forward to lead a counter-attack, timing his pass to perfection so Foden could release Harry Kane to double England’s lead in first-half stoppage time.

Bellingham’s temperament is matching his talent under the most pressure he will have experienced, and the foundation of that is in his hard work out of possession: Bellingham won all four of his tackles and more than half of his game-high 16 duels.

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With the ball, he was typically slick, completing 30 of his 33 passes before being withdrawn for the final 14 minutes with France in mind. It is a credit to the USA that they were able to quieten Bellingham as much as they did in the group stage. Nobody else has come close yet.

Player ratings

England: Jordan Pickford 7, Kyle Walker 7, John Stones 7, Harry Maguire 6, Luke Shaw 7; Jude Bellingham 9, Declan Rice 7, Jordan Henderson 8; Bukayo Saka 8, Harry Kane 8, Phil Foden 8.

Subs: Marcus Rashford 6, Jack Grealish 6, Mason Mount 6, Eric Dier 6, Kalvin Phillips 6.

Senegal: Edouard Mendy 6, Youssouf Sabaly 6, Kalidou Koulibaly 5, Abdou Diallo 5, Ismail Jakobs 5, Ismaila Sarr 6, Nampalys Mendy 6, Pathe Ciss 6, Krepin Diatta 5, Iliman Ndiaye 5, Boulaye Dia 6.

Subs: Pape Matar Sarr 6, Cheikh Dieng 6, Pape Gueye 6, Famara Diedhiou 6, Fode Ballo-Toure 6.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Jude Bellingham, England

It was a midfield masterclass from England’s youngest player.

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WORST: Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal

Senegal were outclassed here, and Koulibaly was at the heart of a defence that could not cope with England’s movement when they increased the tempo.

Highlights and notable moments

Senegal spent most of the first half on the front foot, and indeed, it was Senegal who appeared poised to score first.

In the 32nd minute, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford came up with a huge save to deny Boulaye Dia from close range.

But some five minutes later against the run of play, seemingly out of nowhere, England found the back of the net to pull ahead.

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Jude Bellingham received the ball along the flank, dribbled through a defender and then laid it off to Jordan Henderson, who slotted it inside the far post with a one-side swipe.

Just before the goal, England had registered just 0.09 xG, or expected goals, while Senegal’s xG was a hefty 0.89, but all that matters is the score sheet.

The match would eventually finish as a 3-0 win for England, but it was those two early moments — Senegal failing to score, and England turning around and scoring first — that dictated the final result.

As a bonus, here are England fans at a bar reacting to the goals:

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After the match: What the players and managers said

Check back shortly…

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • With eight different goal scorers, England already has their most different goal scorers ever in a World Cup. The record is 10 different players scoring, which was done by Belgium in 2018, Italy in 2006 and France in 1982.

  • Jude Bellingham is the first player to score a goal and provide an assist at a World Cup before turning 20 years old since Lionel Messi in 2006.

  • Jude Bellingham is the only teenager to record an assist in a World Cup knockout stage game since at least 1966, which is when our dataset begins.

  • At 21 years and 90 days old, Bukayo Saka is the youngest player to score three or more goals for England at the FIFA World Cup.

  • Phil Foden is the second-youngest player since 1966 with multiple assists in a World Cup knockout stage game. Brazil’s Ronaldo had two against Denmark in the 1998 quarterfinals.

Up next

England: The Three Lions are through to the World Cup quarterfinals where they will meet France on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Senegal: The Lions of Teranga put up a good fight early on against England, but have been eliminated from the World Cup.

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