A brace from Marcus Rashford propelled England into the FIFA World Cup round of 16 with a 3-0 victory over Wales in Qatar on Tuesday.
With a dominant performance – seven shots on 18 attempted with 65% possession – England finished first in Group B, ahead of the Americans. The Welsh finish as for them last, behind Iran, and consequently eliminated.
Carried by this performance, Rashford was very optimistic about the future of things for the English. He even believes that he and his teammates could go all the way.
« Winning trophies is what makes me happiest on the pitch and I feel ambition in this team, » Rashford said, according to AFP. We have a good mix of qualities and a group that is really aiming for the final victory in this tournament. I hope that we will be able to renew this kind of performance and score goals to go far.
However, we must be wary of Senegal, which will be the first obstacle to achieving this objective.
“I saw Senegal play against Iran [en match amical] in Vienna, noted England coach Gareth Southgate. I observed them well. From now on, we will study their matches. We know we will be favourites, we have to accept it, but we play a very dangerous team.
The end for Bale?
At 33, Gareth Bale has been rain and shine for Wales during his career. He was also a central element in this first qualification of this constituent nation of the United Kingdom at the World Cup since 1958.
Aside from scoring a penalty shot – his country’s only – against the Americans in a 1-1 draw, the Major League Soccer (MLS) Los Angeles FC star hasn’t been able to ignite the spark as he has so often done.
He was also replaced after an anonymous first half, injured in the hamstrings.
« I had to make a decision, » coach Robert Page said. He wanted to come back, but I said to myself that I needed players in good shape on the pitch. He wants the best for the team and he knew he was 70%. He gave it his all in the first half. »
« I don’t think this will be the last time we see him in the Welsh jersey, » warned Page, however.