Gareth Southgate keeps getting England XI right

AL KHOR, Qatar — England beat Senegal 3-0 at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday as goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka sparked a blockbuster quarter-final game with France.

The Three Lions took control of the game towards the end of a restrained first half, with Jude Bellingham playing a crucial role in both England goals. First, the 19-year-old found Henderson in the box for an easy left-footed finish and just before the whistle he drove forward to find Phil Foden, who in turn released Kane to score his first goal home of that WM.

After the restart, Foden became Saka’s supplier again in the 57th minute, before England ended the last half-hour with minimal excitement and reached the last eight for their third straight major tournament.

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Fast reaction

1. Southgate’s play with Henderson pays off (like the rest)

England manager Gareth Southgate’s squad selection is currently the subject of national debate given the opportunities available to him. But leaving out Marcus Rashford, the two-goal hero against Wales, was likely the headline on Sunday and the decision to keep Jordan Henderson in midfield also raised some eyebrows.

Henderson has played an important role for England at this World Cup so far, injecting some fresh energy against the United States before starting in last time’s win against Wales – but it was still a surprise that he received the nod against Mason Mount as one of the attacking central midfield positions.

Henderson has long been a dependable and dependable member of the England squad but it took him 62 caps to earn his first international goal, which came against Ukraine in last summer’s Euro 2020 quarter-finals. Maybe Henderson will make it in the knockout rounds too (more on that later).

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England’s third goal, scored by Henderson, was the apotheosis of another influential performance that confirmed Southgate’s judgment, as well as in the wide areas where the Three Lions manager has the toughest decisions. Southgate went with Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka and both scored.

England may have gone six games without a win before these finals, but Southgate’s tournament nous has allowed them to turn that suspect form into a distant memory.

2. Kane on his way to peak in the knockout rounds

Harry Kane spoke on Saturday about the work he has done to perform at his best, both physically and mentally, in the knockout stages of tournaments after a goalless group stage in Qatar.

At the last World Cup four years ago, Kane won the Golden Boot but five of his six goals came in the group stage and the 29-year-old admitted he was feeling increasingly tired as the competition progressed. Kane scored all three of his goals at Euro 2020 in the knockout rounds last summer and now he’s off the mark in this finals, completing an excellent counter-attacking move by smashing a wild shot past Edouard Mendy.

Saturday’s clash against France is clearly another step up for England but Southgate’s side will stand a better chance if Kane really adjusts his form to do well at the end of the tournament.

The Tottenham striker is also now just a goal away from equaling Wayne Rooney’s England cap record (53).

3. Bellingham is thriving on its biggest stage yet

Jude Bellingham played the biggest game of his life, but it was impossible to tell with how much comfort and authority he carried out the task at hand.

After the 19-year-old provided the assist for Henderson’s opening goal, the most noticeable contribution was charging forward to counterattack and timing his pass perfectly so Foden could release Harry Kane to give England the lead in the first Halftime double stoppage time.

Bellingham’s temper matches his talent under the greatest pressure he will ever have faced and the basis for this lies in his hard off-ball work: Bellingham has won all four of his tackles and more than half of his 16 duels.

He was typically skilled with the ball, completing 30 of his 33 passes before being pulled back for the final 14 minutes facing France. It’s to the USA’s credit that they were able to reassure Bellingham as they did in the group stage. Nobody else has come close yet.


Player Ratings

England: Jordan Pickford (7), Kyle Walker (7), John Stones (7), Harry Maguire (6), Luke Shaw (7); Jude Bellingham 9, Declan Rice 7, Jordan Henderson 8; Bukayo Saka 8, Harry Kane 8, Phil Foden 8.

Subtitle: Marcus Rashford 6, Jack Grealish 6, Mason Mount 6, Eric Dier 6, Kalvin Phillips 6.

Senegal: Edouard Mendy (6), Youssouf Sabaly (6), Kalidou Koulibaly (5), Abdou Diallo (5), Ismail Jakobs (5), Ismaila Sarr (6), Nampalys Mendy (6), Pathe Ciss (6), Krepin Diatta (5), Iliman Ndiaye (5), Boulaye Dia (6).

Subtitle: Pape Matar Sarr (6), Cheikh Dieng (6), Pape Gueye (6), Famara Diedhiou (6), Fode Ballo-Toure (6).


Best and worst performers

BEST: Jude Bellingham, England

It was a midfield masterclass from England’s youngest player.

WORST: Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal

Senegal were outclassed here and Koulibaly was at the heart of a defense that couldn’t cope with England’s movements as they upped the pace.


Highlights and notable moments

Senegal spent most of the first half on the front foot and indeed it was Senegal who seemed poised to score the first goal.

In the 32nd minute, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a huge save to parry Boulaye Dia from close range.

But about five minutes later, against the run of play, England seemingly out of nowhere found the back of the net to take the lead.

Jude Bellingham received the ball from the cross, dribbled through a defender and then put it down to Jordan Henderson, who slotted it into the far post with a one-sided punch.

Close to goal England had registered just 0.09 xG or expected goals while Senegal’s xG was a whopping 0.89 but all that matters is the goal blade.

The game would eventually end in a 3-0 win for England but it was those two early moments – Senegal failing to score and England turning and scoring the first goal – that dictated the final score.

As a bonus, here are English fans reacting to the goals in a bar:

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England fans celebrate the goals of Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane in the first half.


After the game: What the players and coaches said

Please come back soon…


Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • With eight different goalscorers, England already have the most diverse goalscorers of all time at a World Cup. The record is 10 different players set by Belgium in 2018, Italy in 2006 and France in 1982.

  • Jude Bellingham is the first player to score and assist at a World Cup before turning 20 since Lionel Messi in 2006.

  • Jude Bellingham has been the only teenager to record an assist in a World Cup KO game since at least 1966. At this point, our data set begins.

  • At 21 years and 90 days, Bukayo Saka has become the youngest player to score three or more goals for England at a FIFA World Cup.

  • Phil Foden is the second youngest player with multiple assists in a World Cup knockout game since 1966. Brazilian Ronaldo had two against Denmark in the 1998 quarterfinals.


Next

England: The Three Lions are in the World Cup Quarterfinals where they meet France on Saturday 10 December.

Senegal: The Lions of Teranga did well early on against England but are eliminated from the World Cup.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/4825420/world-cup-gareth-southgate-keeps-getting-england-xi-right Gareth Southgate keeps getting England XI right

Emma Bowman

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