You could argue it’s always difficult to be an England fan but when they start to really get cooking, especially in a major tournament, it can occasionally be good fun to watch.
Last night, England needed to make a statement if they wanted to win Group B and give themselves a more favourable match-up in the round of 16. At the very least, they had to make 100% sure that they would mathematically qualify, given that there was always a chance it wouldn’t transpire like that.
Whatever the case may be they needed to win. They did so, but in classic Three Lions fashion, it didn’t come easy.
Gareth Southgate opted to mix things up by introducing Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden into the fold. Both looked lively and creative in the first 45 minutes with Rashford having the best chance, seeing his shot saved at close range by Danny Ward.
Joe Allen skied Wales’ best opportunity over the bar and heading into half time, a few feared that England would regress into the kind of performance they put in against the United States.
Alas, that didn’t prove to be the case, and it took less than five minutes after the restart for Marcus Rashford to get back on the scoresheet on the big stage
He scored a wonderful free kick to get Southgate’s men up and running and then just one minute later, the Welsh played themselves into all kinds of trouble with Harry Kane laying the ball on a plate for Phil Foden to double the advantage.
Another 17 minutes went by before Rashford made it 3-0, scoring his own third goal of the World Cup in the process to put himself firmly in line for the golden boot race alongside Kylian Mbappe.
Gareth Bale went off at half time for Wales and from there, they didn’t really have many – if any – creative outlets to speak of.
England walked to the three points and won the group. In contrast, Wales left Qatar with just one point to their name after a disappointing loss to Iran and a battering against their local rivals.
The next step for one of the tournament’s favourites will be a Sunday evening encounter with Senegal, who beat Ecuador to finish 2nd place in Group A.
They have their own defensive structure that could wind up frustrating England but they’ve still conceded four goals in three games with no clean sheets, in comparison to the English, who have two clean sheets with just two goals conceded.
The important thing will be for them to start early which is not what happened in this particular fixture. They left fans wanting more which is never a good position to be in, and when you’re playing in the knockouts, it’s pretty difficult to keep spirits all that high if it’s goalless – or you’re behind – late in the game.
Alas, we’re here to talk about the 3-0 win, which was a showcase of what this squad can do when they are playing at their full potential.