England will next play the defending champions France in the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup on Saturday.
The Al Bayat Stadium in Qatar transformed into the equivalent of Wembley at the end of Sunday evening (early the morning of Monday in India) when the crowd and DJ began to sing the Neil Diamond hit song sweet Caroline. It was a good sign enough of England’s victory over the Senegal game at the end of the night. In reality, it was a 3-0 victory by Harry Kane and Co as they advanced to the quarter-finals in the FIFA World Cup.
The champions of the last two years France are waiting for them at the final eight stages, but England as well as their coach Gareth Southgate would be extremely happy with their performance in the match against Senegal and it will give them the confidence to tackle Kylian Mbappe and co face-to-face.
It wasn’t a smooth ride for England in the match against Senegal but this is why they deserve the credit for their bounce back quickly to win the game with a convincing win.
It was clear that the African country was the most effective team for the first 38 minutes until England scored a goal against the flow of play. Coach Aliou Cisse’s plan to have his team stand back, shut down the spaces, and stop each England attempt to break through defensive lines resulted in the European team being unable to gain an understanding of the game.
At the beginning of the 21st minute of the game, Ismaila Sarr had a glorious chance after she put the English defense under pressure, but the shot was smashed over. In the 31st, Sarr grabbed an unintentional ball from Bukayo Saka, allowing Boulaye Dia to strike a shot that could not be saved due to the stretched left arm of Jordan Pickford.
This was the end of the fun for Senegal in the evening. England quickly turned a corner, with Harry Kane dropping deep to get a lay-off and force an opponent to follow and in return, create some space inside Senegal’s defensive line.
Jude Bellingham ran through the empty space after Kane played the ball through and then cut it back to Jordan Henderson to score the opening goal. A stunning goal for the team in which the entirety of England mechanicals was able to create an efficient goal-scoring machine that functions smoothly.
And the procession started.
After that, Saka found Kane in the box via a cutback but Kane shot wide. In the closing minutes of the first period, a clever counterattack saw Bellingham reach Phil Foden from the left flank, as the attacker put in a sideways cross to Kane to score his first goal in this edition of 2022.
The phone was back at it in the second period. A quick sprint on the left-hand side led to an opportunity for Saka inside the box who crossed it over Edouard Mendy to make it 3-1 at the end of the 55th minute in England and end the game.
There was so much that happened to England that they were essentially brisk through the second portion. Senegal dropped their confidence and their innate ability.
“We have worked for years to be the best in Africa but we were facing one of the top five teams in the world and we saw the difference tonight,” Senegal coach Cisse declared after the game.
At the center of England’s revival as well as the remarkable win was 19-year-old midfielder Bellingham.
When England faced the Senegal attack the Borussia Dortmund midfielder’s moments of brilliance altered the course of the match. His position was spot-on as Kane created a gap between Senegal’s defense. Bellingham quickly moved into the final third of the game to let Henderson the chance to strike.
The other goal was the consequence of the 40-yard run that removed the wind from Senegal’s sails.
Being able to play defensively and sit back, but can also move forward to create scoring opportunities, teen Bellingham is showing to be the perfect midfielder.
Defense remains a concern for Southgate’s team. Although they managed to keep the score at 0-0 against Senegal one cannot overlook how the African side scored 10 times.
With the likes of Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele, France have a plethora of top-of-the-line attacking players. It’s through this defense vs. attack game that the outcome will be determined.
However, judging by how England’s attacking team impressed against Senegal we can be sure that they’re up to the challenge, even if the defense does not perform.