Match report as England ease past Senegal with a 3-0 victory in last 16; First-half goals from Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane set Three Lions on their way; Bukayo Saka rounded off what in the end was a comfortable night for England; win sets up huge quarter-final showdown with France
Monday 5 December 2022 06:07, UK
England set up a huge World Cup quarter-final showdown with defending champions France after easing past Senegal with a 3-0 victory in the last 16.
After a sluggish start at the Al Bayt Stadium, England burst into life in the 39th minute when Jude Bellingham brilliantly set up Jordan Henderson for the opener.
It got even better for Gareth Southgate's side just before the break when Bellingham launched a devastating England counter, which was finished off by Harry Kane (45+3) for his first goal of the tournament.
England's charge to the last eight continued after the break as Bukayo Saka (57) justified his recall to the starting XI with a deft finish to convert Phil Foden's cross.
It led to an extremely comfortable end to the game for England as Southgate made a host of substitutions as he aims to keep his squad fresh for what lies ahead.
It sets up a mouth-watering last-eight contest with France on Saturday (kick-off 7pm), who were inspired by a clinical performance from Kylian Mbappe as his double helped secure them a 3-1 victory over Poland.
Southgate said the clash with the World Cup holders will be a huge step up for his side.
"This is the acid test for us, we know this is a step up from what we've had so far," he said after the win over Senegal.
"But the team have garnered so much experience in the last few years, they're playing with confidence and we look threatening. We're scoring goals and another clean sheet is lovely to see. We're in a good place but we know the level of the opposition as well."
Quarter-finals - Saturday December 10
England vs France - Kick-off 7pm
Semi-finals - Wednesday December 14
England vs Morocco/Spain/Portugal/Switzerland - Kick-off 7pm
Before Gareth Southgate's England reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, they had not won a knock-out game of any form since 2006.
Just as they did against Wales, England started slowly and there were some uncomfortable moments for Harry Maguire, who was twice outpaced in the early stages by Boulaye Dia and then Iliman Ndiaye.
Senegal were pressing aggressively and causing England's defenders, who were seeing lots of the ball, plenty of issues.
England: Pickford (7), Walker (6), Stones (6), Maguire (6), Shaw (6), Rice (7), Henderson (8), Bellingham (8), Foden (7), Saka (7), Kane (7).
Subs used: Grealish (6), Rashford (6), Mount (6), Dier (6), Phillips (n/a).
Player of the match: Jude Bellingham.
England just couldn't get going and Senegal created the first opening of the game. The ball fell kindly for Ismaila Sarr, who blazed a shot from the edge of the six-yard area over the bar under pressure from Jordan Pickford. There was also an appeal for a penalty the build-up to the chance with Senegal claiming a handball against John Stones, but after a brief VAR check, play was waved on.
Pickford was back in action shortly after as Saka gifted possession to Sarr, who slid the ball through for Dia. The forward's strike looked to be heading for the far corner but the outstretched left arm of the Everton goalkeeper, who came to England's rescue.
It took until the 39th minute, but England finally showed their quality and to devastating effect. Foden picked out Kane, who slid the ball through for a marauding Bellingham. The Borussia Dortmund broke into the Senegal penalty area before squaring for Henderson, who swept home a first-time finish under Edouard Mendy to give Southgate's side the lead.
England burst into life after the goal. Kane fired over after being picked out by Saka's low cross, but the Tottenham striker wasn't to be denied for long.
A scintillating counter-attack was started by the ever-impressive Bellingham, who eased past several Senegal players before picking out Foden. England had a two-on-one and the Man City star squared for Kane, who drilled the ball past Mendy to put his side firmly in control at the break.
England's lead was strengthened just before the hour when Saka produced a deft finish after latching onto Foden's low cross, and from that moment the game was over as a contest.
England were in cruise control from that point and Southgate rung the changes with progress assured to consecutive World Cup quarter-finals - something the national team last managed in 2002 and 2006.
Southgate managed the game perfectly as Saka and Foden were replaced by Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford before Bellingham, Henderson and Stones all got a deserved rest as focus started to switch to Saturday's blockbuster showdown with France.
Jude Bellingham speaking to ITV:
"The first 35 minutes were tough - they were compact and tough to get through, with really high energy. They got in a few times down the sides so it was one of those games where we knew we had to get the first goal.
"The goal was really well worked down the left-hand side with a few flicks. When H (Harry Kane) drops deep I know he can find anyone on the pitch so I timed my run right. When I get into those areas I'm always confident and the boys take up great positions."
Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett in Qatar:
"He's extraordinary. It's hard to imagine that before this World Cup, Gareth Southgate had some doubts behind the scenes about whether a 19-year-old would be ready to take on the biggest stage.
"It was a brave call by Southgate to include Bellingham in that opening game against Iran and since then, neither of them have looked back because Bellingham has been one of England's best players in all four games now.
"He has become a key player. He's the player England have been looking for for so long - a genuine No8, box-to-box player, as good at breaking up play and stopping the Senegal attacks as he is at getting the ball and driving the ball forward, getting England through the thirds and picking out a key pass England have scored goals from.
"He's clearly enjoying it. I understand he's become really close with Jordan Henderson in camp off the pitch and you saw it there on the pitch.
"After he set up Henderson for the first goal, Bellingham called for applause from the England fans for his mate Henderson and Henderson in return did the same for Bellingham.
What did we learn tonight? Jude Bellingham is world class, and possibly England’s most important player at the age of 19.
"So that blossoming partnership, and given credit to Declan Rice for anchoring that midfield and allows those two players to drift in and out of the game, chase the ball and get England up the pitch.
"But Jude Bellingham is an absolute superstar. The fact that he was able to be brought off after an hour means he can rest his legs for that big game against France. You sense he will be a key player if England are going to progress past the world champions and get anywhere near the semi-finals."
Sky Sports' Roy Keane on ITV:
"I’ve not seen a young midfielder perform like that for years. You usually see it from a world-class player who’s 26, 27. Everything he does in the game. We talk about what goes on in his brain. He’s got that maturity, his decision-making, what’s going on upstairs – it’s huge for a midfielder. End product, final pass, the kid has everything."
England boss Gareth Southgate:
On Bellingham's performance: "I think the biggest thing is the mentality. We've done a lot of work over the years with young players and young-player development and the thing that makes the difference is the mindset, the drive, the desire to learn and improve. He has all of that.
"I think with him, Phil [Foden], Bukayo [Saka] tonight, we felt it was the right moment for all of them and they all stepped up. Jude was with [Jordan] Henderson as well because those two really got us into the game. We were a bit stuck with the ball and our best moments were turning the ball over. I think Hendo's influence is allowing Jude more freedom positionally and he's responded to that remarkably well."
On Kane's goal: "You could see the lift that goal gave Harry Kane in the second half. There was a bit more space. I think we'd managed to move Senegal around so much - although we found it hard to progress - that they tired, and his link play started to come together again.
"I think for any striker when you haven't scored it is there in the back of your mind and you get that lift of confidence when it comes. There's no one I'd rather have bearing down on goal, and it was a really clinical finish. That will do him the world of good.
"The great thing for us is the goals have been spread. We've not been dependent upon him, and we've only had a few goals from set-plays, which in the past was a huge percentage of our goals. It's great we're showing another side to our attacking play."
Sky Sports Gary Neville on ITV:
"It's very rare you see a midfield player as comfortable in his own half as in the attacking half. He looks like he can do absolutely everything. He is a holding player, an attacking player, he's everything in one. Physically he's fantastic, so young but it's the composure, maturity and fearlessness I can't get my head around.
"He just glided past the Senegal players. He releases it at the right time, that's what the best players do. He's running with his right and releases it with his left, the balance under pressure, absolutely fantastic.
"He doesn't put it into areas, Foden, he passes it into players. He's a unique talent, the ability at full-speed to have that balance and get your head up to look into the middle - it's absolutely fantastic.
"I watched players play for England for many years, the weight of the shirt was enormous. He just doesn't feel it at all, he looks like he belongs out there, like he wants it and needs it in his life."
Sky Sports' Roy Keane on ITV:
"It was excellent. First half they weren't at their best, second half the pressure was there in terms of their concentration, not wanting to give a goal away, you win 3-0.
"Physically and emotionally, it didn't take that much out of them, and they should be full of confidence for the weekend. Credit to Gareth, he gets a lot of these decisions right, for all the criticism he gets."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville on ITV:
"Credit to the manager, again. He's making qualifying for the latter stages of tournaments look really easy.
"They've not put a foot wrong really, for three or four years. They had a rough ride coming into the tournament, the manager and the players, but they're delivering again.
"What a blockbuster that is against France on Saturday. They deserve this type of game, on this stage."
England secured the win with their three goals coming during 15-minute periods either side of the break - tripling their xG. It doesn't get much more clinical than three goals from four shots on target.
Southgate's side enjoyed the lion's share of the ball, and also dominated for sustained periods in dangerous areas - primarily attacking down the left flank via Bellingham and Foden.
England now have a World Cup quarter-final against holders France to look forward to on Saturday December 10.
Kick-off at the Al-Bayt Stadium will be at 7pm.