England have advanced to the World Cup’s last 16 with a dominant 3-0 victory over Wales, sending their neighbours out of the tournament in the process.
Marcus Rashford’s second-half brace at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday evening guaranteed Gareth Southgate’s side will face Senegal in the knockout phase on Sunday.
Rashford’s goals came either side of a Phil Foden tap-in engineered by England captain Harry Kane, who is still yet to score in Qatar but now leads the tournament’s assists chart on three.
Wales, who have not beaten England since 1984, needed an unlikely four-goal victory to get out of Group B and reach the knockout rounds. They defended deeply and frustrated England in a subdued first half.
But they caved in after the break as Gareth Southgate’s side took their goals tally in the group to nine.
Rashford began the rout when he smashed home a free kick five minutes after the break.
A minute later, Foden, one of four changes Southgate made to his starting lineup from the previous game against the USA, converted from close range after a fine low cross from Kane.
Wales, whose talisman Gareth Bale was substituted at halftime having made no impact, looked crestfallen as their first World Cup for 64 years fizzled out.
But England continued to dish out the punishment and Rashford made it 3-0 with a surging run in from the right before shooting through a crowd and past goalkeeper Danny Ward’s legs in the 68th minute.
Rashford, whose place in the squad was uncertain a few months ago after he struggled with form and injuries, is now the joint top scorer at the World Cup with three goals in the tournament so far.
His glittering performance helped ease the angst that had mounted around England since they were booed off after a lethargic draw against the USA that followed their 6-2 rout of Iran in the group opener.
They will now go into their last-16 clash with Group A runners-up Senegal full of confidence.
For Wales, their return to the World Cup stage has been all too brief for the fans who were given little to cheer in their three matches as they finished bottom of Group B with a solitary point.
Elsewhere in the group, the USA beat Iran 1-0 on Tuesday night to secure second place with five points and set up a last-16 clash with the Netherlands on Saturday. Iran finished third, with three points.
Source Al Jazeera
BDST: 1000 HRS, NOV 30, 2022