Harry Kane scored his first goal of the tournament as England beat Senegal 3-0 to set up a World Cup quarter-final against France.
The Tottenham striker doubled England’s lead in injury time in the first half after Jordan Henderson opened the scoring 10 minutes earlier.
Bukayo Saka scored in a surprisingly routine win in the 57th minute, scoring his third goal in the final.
England’s next challenge is unlikely to be as easy as Le Bleus and Kylian Mbappé are waiting in ambush on Saturday.
The pompous first half hour was notable only for the number of times England lost possession in dangerous areas and Senegal failed to make the most of their opportunities.
Boulaye Dia saw a close-range shot hit John Stones – VAR ruled there was no penalty – before Jordan Pickford was called in to make a brilliant stop to hit the Salernitan striker from 10 yards.
England finally woke up from their sleep and took the lead from their first really good move seven minutes before the break. Kane released Jude Bellingham in the left channel and his low cross was sent to Henderson.
19 years 158 days. At the age of 19 years and 158 days, Jude Bellingham became the youngest player to assist England in the World Cup (since 1966). Diamond. #ANGSEN #Soccer World Cup pic.twitter.com/4ixvneO5rs
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 4, 2022
Three minutes later, the score could have been 2-0 with an almost identical reception, but this time from the right flank, Saka gave the ball to Kane, who shot extravagantly over the crossbar.
However, Gareth Southgate’s men doubled their lead in stoppage time of the first half. The impressive Bellingham won the ball on the edge of their penalty area and blasted through midfield before clearing Foden from the left. Foden passed the ball to Kane, who blew the ball over Edouard Mendy with one touch.
England put the game beyond doubt in the 12th minute of the second half. Kane’s pass was blocked, and Foden picked up the lost ball and played a post for Saka to skim the ball over Mendy.
Life was long gone from Senegal and Southgate was able to make a few changes with France in mind.
eleven – @HKane has so far scored 11 goals in major tournaments for England (7 World Cups, 4 euros), overtaking @GaryLineker (10) as the leading scorer of the Three Lions in the history of such competitions. Historical. pic.twitter.com/StQcUAaK3O
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 4, 2022
What does it mean?
England have scored 12 goals in four matches at the World Cup this year, a record of three lions in one major tournament (World Cup and Euro), equaling their 12 goals at the 2018 World Cup.
However, England will have to improve on their first half hour of this game when they next face the defending champions. Senegal was surprisingly powerless in attack; France will not.
Brilliant Bellingham sets the standard
The Borussia Dortmund player once again excelled in a more advanced role, with Henderson behind along with Declan Rice.
By scoring the first goal, the 19-year-old Bellingham became the first teenager to help England in the World Cup play-offs since such records exist (since 1966). He then played a key role in the second goal with a typical run-up.
Henderson’s match savvy on display again
He may not appeal to every England fan, but Henderson simply makes teams better. The winner of seven major trophies in Liverpool, England has looked like a more cohesive team since Henderson was included in the final group game against Wales.
On Saturday, England marches to meet France. This is the end of the road for Senegal, who will be disappointed with their performance that evening.