England set up tantalising France World Cup quarter-final after dominant Senegal win

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Even the Senegal drums seemed to miss a beat before the moment that confirmed England can actually win this World Cup. Many of the fans were shuffling when only two minutes of first-half added time were shown – a blink of an eye compared to most injury stoppages.

And surely that had elapsed some time ago?

But hang on… that’s a great interception by Jude Bellingham. And he’s carrying on. Phil Foden is outside him, the future of English football in perfect combination. Now the cross. Slight deflection but it’s into the path of Harry Kane.

Eight minutes earlier we had seen Foden and Bellingham combine beautifully again, this time for the latter to square for Jordan Henderson of all people to give Gareth Southgate’s side a much-needed lead.

But when Bukayo Saka cut the ball back for Kane, his leant-back shot was so far over the bar that you even wondered if the chance might have fallen to Henderson instead.

Kane has watched the goals fly in for England here in Qatar without weighing in himself but as tougher tests come and sterner defences need unlocking, his world-class eye for goal needs to be fully-honed for the Three Lions to take advantage of whatever fine margins they can get.

So when that Foden pass reached him 25 yards from goal, the whole nation held it’s breath. The finish was far from easy but it was that Kane has built his career climbing towards the top of the England scoring charts feasting upon.

Was that the Kane we had out there in Qatar? One touch, bang, and there was our answer. His first goal of the tournament but the hunger was there for more. Moreover, everything about the 45 preceding minutes suggests England need it to be.

Bellingham had been electric but try as he might, he could not do it on his own, however willing Saka and Foden had been as foils. Those senior men were needed to complete the picture. While at the other end, at the first sign of genuine pace, the England defence jittered uncontrollably.

Senegal had three dangerous chances, dealt with by a mixture of Jordan Pickford’s quick thinking or strong shot-stopping. The former quality was enough to stop Ismaila Sarr from doing anything other than firing over the bar from close range, he found the angle cut down and the latter beat away a couple of firm Boulaye Dia efforts.

The Manchester United star was inches from finding the end of Kane’s toe with an 80th-minute cross that might finally have taken the England skipper level with Wayne Rooney.

That, though, can wait – hopefully until England play France here again on Saturday for the quarter-final.

Kane may trail Kylian Mbappe 5-1 in the goalscoring charts but then he already has a World Cup golden boot.

It is his French counterpart’s World Cup winner’s medal that Kane is really after this time around.



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