England strolled to a comfortable victory over rivals Wales to secure top spot in Group B and book a Round of 16 clash against Senegal. A solitary point from a disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign for Wales sees the Dragons exit a major tournament at the group stage for the first time in their history, Abbeylivenetwork.com reports.
The game got off to a tepid start, with stand-in Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward doing well to rush off his line and deny Marcus Rashford in an opening 20th minutes short on chances. Rob Page’s side were clearly set up to remain in the contest for as long as possible, rarely threatening in the first period and allowing England to increasingly turn the screw as the opening half progressed.
England’s first real opening saw the ball reach the much-hyped Phil Foden, but he could only blaze over on the spin, before Rashford’s acrobatic Richarlison-esque overhead kick failed to pay dividends. The defiant Welsh fans bellowed out Yma o Hyd as the half time whistle loomed, but news of the USA taking the lead against Iran in Group B’s other finale cast further doubt over the Dragons’ chances of progression.
What appeared to be a forced substitution of talisman Gareth Bale served as a bad omen for Wales, and within 10 minutes of the restart, their tournament was as good as over thanks to a one-two knockout blow from Manchester’s finest. Foden’s direct run earned England a free-kick on the edge of the box, allowing Rashford to wrong-foot Ward, guiding an effort into the top-right corner. Still reeling from going behind, Wales were immediately pressed high by Rashford, who provided Kane with the chance to drill a ball across the face of goal for Foden to tap in at the back post.
Wales looked for a quick response through Kieffer Moore’s deflected long shot, but Pickford adjusted well to deny the Welsh a slither of hope. Not content with just one for the evening, Rashford then netted the Three Lions’ 100th World Cup goal, brilliantly manoeuvring his way into the box and emphatically squeezing a shot through Ward’s legs.
As the game drew to a close, it became a question of how many for England, with Jude Bellingham and Foden both coming close to a fourth. Ultimately, Gareth Southgate’s side did more than enough to top the group, and can look forward to a first-ever senior level meeting with Senegal on Sunday. As for neighbours Wales, they end their World Cup campaign rock-bottom of Group B, without a win to their name.