- Jordan Henderson struck for England lead after Senegal created initial openings
- Harry Kane closed on Three Lions scoring record with team’s second
- Bukayo Saka netted his third goal in Qatar to secure quarter-final berth
England 3-0 Senegal
Goals: Henderson (38), Kane (45+3), Saka (57) England set up a humdinger of a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ quarter-final tie against defending champions France with a convincing victory over Senegal.
Gareth Southgate’s side didn’t have everything their own way in a tense opening half hour at Al Bayt Stadium. Jordan Pickford rushed out to force Ismaila Sarr to scoop over the bar from point-blank range after 22 minutes. And 10 minutes later, Sarr cleverly played in Boulaye Dia for a fizzing shot that goalkeeper Pickford met with a strong left hand.
England were laboured in that opening period – but Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson combined to flick a switch on a performance that was suddenly filled with confidence and vitality. When England broke down the left, teenager Bellingham took charge to send in a low cross. Fellow midfielder Henderson, surging into the box, steered an accomplished finish beyond Edouard Mendy.
Mendy was beaten again in the third minute of first-half time added on. And Bellingham was instrumental once more. The Borussia Dortmund player stole possession in his own half and burst upfield to feed Phil Foden. His first-time pass was perfectly timed and executed, feeding the fast-arriving Kane to put his laces through the ball and score his first goal of the tournament.
Any faint hopes of a Senegal fightback were extinguished 12 minutes after the break. England served notice they weren’t settling for 2-0 when Mendy kept his eye on a shot from Kane that viciously dipped as it reached the keeper. But Mendy was helpless 60 seconds later.
The impish Foden dodged a tackle to advance and squeeze a left-wing cross through Kalidou Koulibaly. Saka, who struck a double in England’s opening game, met the delivery with a deft chip over the grounded goalkeeper to set up his team’s first World Cup meeting with France since 1982.
A few to choose from, right from the moment the teamsheet dropped and we learned Henderson and Saka would play from the start. Gareth Southgate’s selections aren’t always greeted with universal acclaim in England but he gets them right far more often than not. Henderson and Saka both scored to underline that point.
But Harry Kane’s emphatic strike with the final kick of the opening half was, perhaps, the most significant moment of the night. Senegal could count themselves unfortunate to be trailing at that point after making most of the running – and opportunities – prior to Henderson’s opener. The African team would surely have remained hopeful of regaining a foothold in the contest, given everything that had gone before.
Kane’s goal – and the convincing manner of it – put an end to that, sending England into the break on a significant high and leaving Senegal a puncher’s chance, at best, of prolonging their Qatar stay.
Equally gladdening for manager Southgate and England supporters was the sight of Kane getting off the mark for the tournament. The striker promised he was reserving his goals for the knockout stages and he was as good as his word. Kane was similarly quiet in the group phase of last year’s UEFA Euro but when the stakes heightened he scored four goals on England’s march to the final.
The 2018 Golden Boot winner took his goal with the air of a man in free-scoring form, not someone waiting for his first of the competition. He moved one goal behind Wayne Rooney’s 53-goal England international record and now he’s got going, you wouldn’t bet against him claiming the honour all for himself in Qatar.
England face a desperately tough quarter-final against France – but with Kane in the goals their chances of overcoming the 2018 champions are markedly increased.