England booked a World Cup last-16 match against Senegal after Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden inspired a 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday, knocking their neighbors out of the tournament.
Gareth Southgate’s side won Group B thanks to key contributions from Rashford and Foden, who were restored to the team by the England manager.
Foden demonstrated why he has been tipped to start by winning the free-kick that Rashford converted to break the deadlock early in the second half at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Doha.
Just seconds later, Foden doubled England’s lead, effectively ending the one-sided ‘Battle of Britain,’ and Rashford struck again to ensure Wales’ first World Cup since 1958 ended in disappointment.
England won for the second time in their last nine games, thanks to Foden and Rashford providing the cutting edge that had been missing in their previous match, a drab goalless draw against the United States.
A stuttering first half demonstrated that the Three Lions still have room to improve as they seek their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
But the ruthless manner in which they demolished Wales after the break gave them hope ahead of Sunday’s clash with Group A runners-up Senegal.
While England fans view Germany and Scotland as their main rivals, Wales has never hidden their desire to get one over on their despised neighbours.
Wales’ squad was famously filmed celebrating England’s humiliating Euro 2016 exit against Iceland, and Welsh striker Kieffer Moore recently stated that he would love to knock England out of the World Cup.
When Rashford surged onto Harry Kane’s pass, he had a golden opportunity to give England an early lead, but he took too long to shoot, and Danny Ward raced off his line to save.
Wales barely made it out of their own half as Southgate’s men monopolised possession for long periods without producing the breakthrough.
When England upped their tempo and passed more quickly, they scythed through Wales’ defense, but Foden’s shot whistled wide.
Wales captain Gareth Bale was criticised for his performance in the defeat to Iran, and the former Real Madrid star was substituted at half-time, possibly injured.
However, England’s quick-fire barrage rendered Bale’s absence irrelevant within six minutes of the game’s restart.
Southgate had expressed concern about Foden feeling under pressure to perform following the calls for him to be selected, but the Manchester City playmaker proved he didn’t need to worry.
England’s opener came after Foden drove forward to win a 50th-minute free-kick, which Rashford brilliantly curled into the far corner of Ward’s goal from 25 yards.
England were suddenly pressing with more vigour, and they pounced again 60 seconds later when Rashford forced Wales to concede possession and Kane’s low cross found Foden, who slotted home at the far post.