England dump Wales out of World Cup and progress to last 16 – 5 talking points – ASAL SPORTS

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WALES 0-3 ENGLAND: Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden fired the Three Lions into the last 16 of the World Cup, where they will face Senegal, as the Dragons were eliminated

Marcus Rashford was at the double and Phil Foden lived up to his billing as England surged into the World Cup last 16 and sent Wales home from Qatar.

The Dragons, who had a very slim chance of avoiding elimination ahead of kick-off, held out for over 45 minutes before the Three Lions hammered home the gulf in quality. Foden showed sparkling footwork to draw a foul 20 yards from goal and Manchester Derby rival Rashford rifled into the far top corner to put Gareth Southgate’s side ahead.

Within two minutes, fan-favourite Foden doubled the lead with a tap-in from close range after fine work from Harry Kane. Rashford scored a sublime solo goal in the 68th minute to secure all three points and could have had a hat-trick, forcing Danny Ward into a good save, before he was taken off to rapturous applause.

The result means England top Group B and will face African champions Senegal in the last 16, while Wales head home from their first World Cup in 64 years without a victory to their name.

Here are five talking points from Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.

  1. Southgate’s switch-up

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When news filtered through on Tuesday that Jordan Henderson was set to start in the England midfield, fans expected this would be alongside Declan Rice in a two-man pairing, perhaps involving a switch to five at the back.

Gareth Southgate did indeed change from the 4-2-3-1 system used against Iran and United States, but he did so to a 4-3-3 set-up. Henderson was one of four players brought into the XI as Southgate sought more midfield control, having failed to dominate proceedings against USA four days earlier.

Kieran Trippier also made way for Kyle Walker but it was in attack where Southgate shook things up most, bringing Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford in for Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling. As well as resting tired legs ahead of progression to the last 16, the Three Lions boss aimed to stretch Wales, with Foden and Rashford instructed to hug the touchlines noticeably more than the players they replaced in the line-up.

  1. Marcus’ miss

He scored seconds after coming on against Iran and went on to grab two against Wales, but Marcus Rashford was unable to bury England’s best early chance against the Dragons after a brilliant move set in motion by the expert pressing of Kyle Walker and Declan Rice.

The latter burst into midfield in the 10th minute to beat Kieffer Moore to a loose ball and feed Kane in the middle of the Dragons half. The Three Lions captain collected the ball with one touch and used his second to pick out Rashford as he burst through on goal, but Danny Ward – between the posts in place of the suspended Wayne Hennessey – was off his line quickly to smother the Manchester United forward.

Another Rashford shot led to a sizeable stoppage 13 minutes later, when Neco Williams got his head in the way of a powerful effort from range and required a check from the Wales physio. The Nottingham Forest right-back attempted to play on after the incident but was forced off with concussion after visibly struggling.

  1. Gareth’s goodbye?
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111 caps, 41 goals and the captain of a Wales team playing in their first World Cup in 64 years, but have we seen the last of Gareth Bale in a Dragons shirt after he was hauled off at half-time?

Speaking ahead of the fixture against England, the former Real Madrid star simply replied, “Nope,” when asked if the all-British clash would be his last for Wales. However, aged 33 and plying his trade in Major League Soccer, the curtain is undoubtedly coming down on a legendary career.

Upon joining Los Angeles FC in the summer, Bale outlined his intention to qualify for and feature at Euro 2024 in Germany, but his contract with the American club only runs until next summer. He led LAFC to MLS glory earlier in November but there is no denying his future at club and international level is uncertain.

Moments of magic are Bale’s bread and butter but they evaded him against England – and Iran before that – as Wales struggled to find any kind of fluency on the front foot. The only two efforts the Dragons mustered in the first half were two Joe Allen strikes from a long way out, while Bale only had seven touches and completed one of his four attempted passes in that time.

In an unexpected move at half-time, Rob Page shuffled his pack and sent on 21-year-old Brennan Johnson, the highly-regarded Nottingham Forest winger, for Bale. Did fans witness a changing of the guard in Doha?

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  1. Floodgates fractured
    There was bemusement after Phil Foden was not brought on against United States on Friday, and he showed just why in the second half as he battered his way through the Welsh defences.

England burst out of the blocks after the interval and took the lead in the 50th minute courtesy of a brilliant Marcus Rashford free kick earned by the dazzling dribbling of Foden. The Manchester United forward powered into the far corner – with Danny Ward perhaps unsighted by the diversionary run of Old Trafford teammate Harry Maguire – to ease the pressure building after 140 minutes without a goal.

It took a matter of seconds for the Three Lions to double their lead as Harry Kane slammed the ball across the six-yard box to find Foden, who had the simplest of close-range tap-ins to grab a goal of his own. The plaudits will go to Foden after the clamour for him to start against Wales, but credit must also go to Kane, who picked up his third assist of the tournament.

  1. England ecstasy

Gareth Southgate had already begun making his changes by the time Marcus Rashford weaved his way into the centre of the box and lashed beyond Danny Ward to cap a brilliant display.

The England manager deserves huge praise for switching Rashford to the right wing and Phil Foden to the left for the second half, baffling Wales defenders in the process and contributing to the deadlock being broken. After seeing his side take a two-goal lead to set up a last-16 encounter with Group A runners-up Senegal, Southgate sent on Callum Wilson, Kalvin Phillips and Trent Alexander-Arnold to give Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Kyle Walker a breather.

It was Phillips who created Rashford’s second goal with a pass over the Wales defence, while the sight of Jack Grealish coming on for the Manchester United forward soon after only served to underline the vast gulf in quality between the two sides. Luke Shaw was also handed a rest towards the end of the game as Kieran Trippier was sent on for the final 25 minutes.

Senegal did not have the luxury of resting players during their dramatic victory over Ecuador earlier on Tuesday, and with the vitriolic backlash to the draw with United States firmly behind them, England will be heavy favourites to reach the quarter-finals.

Not for the first time in recent years, excitement and anticipation are growing. Could it be coming home?

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