Marcus Rashford 3

England Advance, Send Wales Home as Rashford Enters Golden Boot Race With Brace

England defeated Wales 3-0 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday to top Group B, setting up a round of 16 tie next Sunday against Group A runners-up Senegal.

As reported by ESPN, Gareth Southgate’s side scored twice in two minutes after a goalless first half as Marcus Rashford fired in a superb 50th-minute free-kick before Phil Foden slotted home from Harry Kane’s pass.

Rashford then added his second on 68 minutes as Wales’ first World Cup appearance in 64 years ended in a group stage exit for the first time at a major tournament.

England Advance With Southgate’s Changes Paying Off

Sometimes a change can do you good. Gareth Southgate was expected to freshen up his England team after a lacklustre showing against the United States and he made four alterations, drafting in Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson and Kyle Walker.

A subdued opening 45 minutes followed where England were once again guilty of moving the ball too slowly, although Wales set up with a low defensive block and limited ambition, determined to stay in the game as long as possible. England came out with greater purpose in the second half and it was Rashford who provided the spark from a dead ball situation, smashing a 50th-minute free-kick past Danny Ward, who will regret taking two small jumps to his right as the ball flew to his left.

The clamour for Foden’s inclusion had been widespread and he justified those calls with a well-taken second to essentially kill off Wales’ hopes with so much time remaining that Southgate was able to rest key players with Sunday’s game against Senegal in mind.

And after Southgate was criticised for his in-game management against Wales, it should be noted Foden’s goal was in part the product of Rashford and the Manchester City winger switching flanks moments earlier.

Kane Doesn’t Need to Score to Deliver

Harry Kane is up against it in his desire retain the Golden Boot he won four years ago in Russia but it hardly matters to England at the moment. There was a consensus back then that England’s hopes of progress rested largely on Kane’s clinical finishing but that is not the case with 2022 England given the number of attacking options either side of him.

After two assists in England’s opening win over Iran, he turned provider once again with a brilliant pass for Foden’s goal, collecting the ball from Rashford and sending over a perfectly weighted cross to the far post. Earlier in the match, Kane could have had another assist with a cute through to Rashford in the opening 10 minutes.

Kane’s fitness has been debated ever since he picked up a foot problem against Iran but the 29-year-old looked sharper here and will benefit from the rest afforded him, replaced by Callum Wilson after only 57 minutes.

It will irritate Kane that he has not found the net yet in Qatar, such is his relentless appetite for goalscoring, but his overall contribution has still been vital as he becomes the first England player since David Beckham in 2002 to assist on three goals.

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