England thump Wales 3-0, qualify as Group B toppers
Young forwards Marcus Rashford (2) and Phil Foden scored after they were given their first start and many others got vital minutes. England face Senegal in Round of 16
England and manager Gareth Southgate answered questions about Phil Foden and a lack of creativity and goals as they crushed a poor Wales 3-0 on Tuesday night to reach the Round of 16 as Group B toppers at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha.
After a goalless first half, Marcus Rashford scored twice and Foden in between in a matter of minutes. The young forwards justified finally getting a start by harassing the Wales defence. Their form and creativity gives Southgate a pleasant headache with the depth of talent available.
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England, semi-finalists in 2018 and dreaming of a first triumph since 1966, face Group A second-placed Senegal in the Round of 16. On the evidence of Tuesday’s performance, they promise to go some distance.
England finished on 7 points (2 wins, a draw) with US qualifying as the second team after a tense 1-0 win over Iran. For Wales, it was a tame end after qualifying for their first World Cup finals since 1958.
Southgate bowed to vociferous demand by giving the creative Foden, 22, a start in four changes from the side that was held goalless by United States. He replaced Bukayo Saka on the right flank with Rashford coming in for Raheem Sterling.
At right fullback, the speedy Kyle Walker, desperate for minutes not having played since early September, replaced Kieren Trippier while Mason Mount made way for Jordan Henderson in the midfield.
England were ponderous to begin with, like they were against US. But Walker’s enterprise sparked them into life and almost put them ahead in the 10th minute.
That chance fell to Rashford, put through by skipper Harry Kane after Walker’s through ball. But he took one extra step, which was enough for Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward to rush out and block.
Walker again initiated a move down the right flank as England slalomed through the Welsh defence. Quick passing between Foden, Henderson and Jude Bellingham saw the teenaged midfielder spin around and lay it on in style for Foden, whose shot though swerved away and over the far post.
Wales worked hard, but it have enough to offer. Neco Williams was forced off and Connor Roberts came on as the World Cup’s first concussion sub—an extra six change. They had a bigger setback as star forward Gareth Bale, possibly playing for Wales in a major tournament for the last time, was subbed at halftime.
And barely five minutes into the second half, England put the game to bed. Both Foden and Rashford played a big role in the first two goals. Coming increasingly into focus, Foden showed what England had been missing with a brilliant run, forcing Wales to foul him on top of the box. Rashford, in form for Manchester United, sent home a stunning free-kick that Ward failed to deal with.
Rashford again won a ball, this time on the right-wing, and it rolled to Kane, who sent a cross across the box and Foden coolly steered it into the far post. It was the signal for Southgate to ring in the changes. He took off Kane and Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, back after injury, was among those who came on.
The Welsh caved in and had no answer in the 68th minute when Rashford controlled a long ball from Phillips, beat a defender inside the box and drove in with Ward, his view blocked by his defenders, letting the ball slip between his legs. Rashford’s third goal of the World Cup was England’s 100th overall.