ivorycoasttribune.com (04/12/2022) England set up a mouth-watering World Cup quarter-final against reigning champions France as Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka struck against Senegal.
Playing in their first knockout match on the world stage since the agonising extra-time 2018 semi-final loss to Croatia, Gareth Southgate’s men showed their quality to progress in Qatar.
Kane became England’s highest scorer at major tournaments after Henderson opened the scoring, with Saka superbly wrapping up a comfortable 3-0 win in Sunday’s last-16 contest at Al Bayt Stadium.
The reward is a return to Al Khor for a crunch clash against France next Saturday as last year’s European Championship runners-up take on the World Cup holders.
Southgate’s side will need to take their performance up a level given some of the problems Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal were able to cause in a first half that ended with a quick-fire England double.
Henderson was the unlikely man to open the scoring when coolly directing in the cutback from Jude Bellingham, who played a key role as England also scored with the final kick of the first half.
The 19-year-old led a brilliant breakaway that ended with Phil Foden playing on to 2018 Golden Boot winner Kane, who slammed home his first goal in Qatar to become the side’s eighth different goalscorer.
Saka joined Marcus Rashford – the man he replaced in the starting line-up on Sunday – on three goals at this World Cup and ended the contest when he delicately clipped the ball over Edouard Mendy early in the second half.
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.
After the game, Harry Kane said of England’s initial struggles to get into the match: “Really tough, you know, knockout games are never easy.
"We’ve shown great maturity throughout the tournament and three goals against a really good side is a credit to the boys. The mentality was top from the beginning and we took our chances when they came.
"We feel good, we’ve got good runners, good players and we’re solid at the back. Three clean sheets in a row is really important.”
Asked about notching his first goal of the tournament, Kane said: “The ball just sat up nicely and the connection was perfect. It was nice to see that one go in. I’m a striker so whenever I score, I’m happy.”
On the meeting with France, he said: “Really tough game but it will be a good battle.”
Phil Foden said of man of the match Jude Bellingham: “I don’t want to big him up too much because he’s still young but he’s one of the most gifted players I’ve ever seen.
"I don’t see a weakness in his game, I think he’s got everything and I’m sure he’s going to be the best midfielder in the world.”
Published/Updated on 04/12/[email protected]:08