Match report as an excellent double from Marcus Rashford and strike from Phil Foden send England into the World Cup last 16 as Group B winners, where a clash with Senegal awaits on Sunday December 4; Wales finish bottom of the group and had Gareth Bale, Joe Allen go off injured
Tuesday 29 November 2022 23:27, UK
Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden capitalised on their starting roles to help England eliminate Wales from the World Cup with a 3-0 win which also secured top spot in Group B and set up a last-16 tie with Senegal.
England boss Gareth Southgate had been grilled since the disappointing goalless draw with USA about Foden's lack of game time in the tournament so far and the Manchester City forward showed what he can bring to this stage at the start of the second half.
First, he won a free-kick, which was brilliantly converted by Rashford (50), and then he tucked in at the back post (51) moments later to put his country on course for an ultimately comfortable win in the first all-British World Cup finals clash.
Rashford had already scored in the opening game thrashing of Iran and underlined his own fine form with his excellent second (68), picking up a ball over the top from sub Kalvin Phillips before cutting inside his marker and firing through the legs of Danny Ward. He had the Wales goalkeeper scrambling at his near post soon after as he searched for a hat-trick and now looks like a certain starter when England play Senegal on Sunday night.
Wales, who needed a win and a helpful result in the other group game to continue their first World Cup adventure since 1958, did well to limit their opponents in the first half but never really threatened to spring the upset required. Their first shot came in first-half stoppage time and only a deflected long-range effort from Kieffer Moore made Jordan Pickford work in the England goal.
Gareth Bale managed just seven touches in that opening 45 minutes and was forced off with a hamstring injury at the break in what may prove to have been his final major tournament appearance for his country. He insisted afterwards he hoped to carry on but his next step will be a key talking point as Wales reflect on an impressive achievement to reach Qatar but also a bottom-place finish in the group and a first major tournament in which they have failed to win a match.
Gareth Bale to the BBC: "I’ll keep going as long as I can and as long as I’m wanted. It’s a difficult moment now but we go again. We have a qualifying campaign starting in March. I hope [I am involved], yes.”
For England, though, the knockout phase awaits, and Southgate will be encouraged by his side's strength in depth, with Kyle Walker and Phillips gaining vital minutes on their returns from injury, and Foden and Rashford illustrating the array of attacking options at his disposal.
Wales: Ward (5), N Williams (5), Rodon (4), Mepham (5), Davies (6), Allen (6), Ampadu (6), Ramsey (5), James (4), Bale (4), Moore (5).
Subs: Roberts (4), Johnson (4), Morrell (4), Wilson (5), Colwill (n/a)
England: Pickford (6), Walker (6), Stones (6), Maguire (6), Shaw (6), Henderson (6), Rice (6), Bellingham (6), Foden (7), Kane (7), Rashford (9).
Subs: Grealish (5), Trippier (5), Phillips (6), Alexander-Arnold (5), Wilson (5).
Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford
Rashford, in for Raheem Sterling, should have put England ahead with just 10 minutes in the clock, when Harry Kane slipped a fantastic pass through for him to run onto but Ward was out swiftly to the edge of his area and read the attempted chip to chest away the forward's effort.
Foden then shot wide as England's refreshed attack began to fire but well-organised Wales put the brakes on that momentum and almost 20 minutes later an almost-comical ending to a Harry Maguire marauding run into the box summed up his side's frustrations, with his shot flying out for a throw-in.
Neco Williams had earlier taken a blow, heading away a Rashford drive, and was eventually forced off on 35 minutes - and from then on England ramped up towards half-time, with their best move of the opening period seeing Jude Bellingham swivel Jordan Henderson's pass to Walker before teeing up the return pass for Foden to shoot over.
Rashford miscued an overhead and failed to pick out Bellingham at the end of a lightning counter before Joe Allen finally unleashed Wales' first shot of the half deep into stoppage time. But the half-time withdrawal of the injured Bale was a major setback for Wales and England - who had been below their best up until that point - kicked on.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart an excellent dribble from Foden - who had switched flanks with Rashford - earned a free-kick on the edge of the box. Rashford stepped up and hammered the ball into the keeper's corner, with Ward anticipating the shot over his wall.
Seconds later one turned into two, with Foden getting in on the act himself, slotting home at the back post after Rashford's press on Ben Davies allowed Kane to skim the ball through the six-yard box.
A deflected long-range shot from Moore had Pickford wrong-footed for a moment but the keeper recovered well to make his only save of the match and Rashford's second soon ended the contest - and Wales' fading hopes.
Phillips, making his first appearance in Qatar, lofted a pass to send Rashford into space and after he turned inside Connor Roberts, his rasping shot flew through the legs of Ward. It was England's 100th goal at a World Cup finals and moves Rashford up to joint-top of this edition's scoring charts.
The Manchester United forward could easily have added another to go clear in those rankings before he was subbed off and Bellingham forced a sharp stop from Ward before John Stones somehow skewed over from six yards in the final moments, as England looked to hammer home their dominance of a flagging Wales side.
It was a painful night for the Welsh, who also lost Davies and Allen to injury - but England can now look ahead, optimistic of another major tournament run under Southgate.
England boss Gareth Southgate to the BBC: "I thought in the first half we really controlled the game, but we didn't create many clear-cut chances. So we wanted a little bit more thrust and threat in the final third and to play forward a bit quicker.
"In the second half, once we got the two goals, we knew their spirit had probably gone, it's been a tough tournament for them. I thought we kept our discipline and quality right to the end.
"It's great for Marcus Rashford, he has trained really well. I have to say, he's really been impressive since he came back in with us. He could have had a hat-trick couldn't he? And the free kick is what he's capable of, it's an incredible strike really.
"In moments I thought both Foden and Rash were quiet in the first half, we decided to switch wings, and I thought that might allow them to go on the outside and also the chance to come in and they responded really well, so for both to get the goals is great."
Wales boss Rob Page to the BBC: "It's very tough to take. In the first half we were outstanding, the effort the players put in off the ball was exceptional. We could have been a little bit better on the ball, but I won't say a bad word about those players, they have given everything today.
"I don't want to talk about negatives, the boys put a shift in. we're disappointed to leave the tournament but if we're going to go out, that's the way to go out, our first-half performance was excellent.
"Five minutes before half-time [Gareth Bale] felt his hamstring. Joe Allen threw everything at it in his first 90 minutes in ages. Ben Davies had to come off with an injury. It was a massive effort from all the group. To get here is a massive achievement. I couldn't be more proud of them."
Sky Sports' Dan Sansom:
"'Moments like this, this is what I play football for. The biggest moments, the best moments.' Those were the words of player-of-the-match Marcus Rashford after England brushed aside Wales to reach the last 16 of the World Cup.
"After his goal against Iran in England's opener, Rashford's brilliant second-half double on his first start in Qatar moved him joint-top of the World Cup scoring charts. The Manchester United forward is arguably in the form of his life but just over two months ago, he was not even in the international fold.
"Back in September, Rashford faced missing the World Cup altogether after being left out of England's 28-man Nations League squad. Although already a doubt due to what he described as an "untimely injury", the 25-year-old had been overlooked since November 2021 after struggling for form at club level. His chances of making the plane to Qatar appeared to be fading.
"Now though, the picture could not be any different. After starring under new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag this season, Rashford is now impressing on the biggest stage for his country. His magnificent free-kick against Wales - his first for England and the first of this World Cup - demonstrated his unique ability from set-pieces. Moments later, his effective pressing helped England double their lead before his directness and determination made it 3-0 to put the result beyond doubt.
"After this performance, the England manager has a simple decision to make. Rashford deserves to start against Senegal on Sunday."
Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett in Qatar:
"That was impressive from England, and in particular, their manager.
"Southgate shuffled his pack, and the two big calls - to bring in Foden and Rashford - paid off big time. Both were outstanding and deserved the three goals they got.
"A thoroughly professional performance, which could've been even more lucrative in the goals-scored column. England top the group, and they will play Senegal with renewed belief - the belief that was so evident after the thrashing of Iran.
"The real business begins now, however, and it was noticeable, too, that there were no wild celebrations from the England players.
"They expected to win Group B, and they know they will be judged on what happens in the games to come in Qatar."
England's win has set up a last-16 tie with Senegal on Sunday December 4, kick off 7pm.
Wales' defeat, coupled with USA's win over Iran, means they finish their campaign bottom of Group B with one point from their three games.