England thrashed Senegal to reach the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Jude Bellingham becoming the first Under-20 player to score and assist at the World Cup after Lionel Messi.
England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham; Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Phil Foden.
Senegal: Edouard Mendy; Youssouf Sabaly, Kalidou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo, Ismail Jakobs; Pathe Ciss, Nampalys Mendy; Krepin Diatta, Iliman Ndiaye, Ismaila Sarr; Boulaye Dia.
Senegal had a tough mountain to climb against the Three Lions. The European side have never lost a World Cup match against African opponents. Before now, they have won four and drew three games against African team.
African opponents have lost all eight World Cup knockout matches against European opponents. But there was light at the end of the tunnel for Senegal. They were the only team with an odd result having defeated Sweden 2-1 in the round of 16 in 2002, to reach their first quarterfinals.
A lot was at stake for Gareth Southgate going into the game at the backdrop of his failure to help England win the 2020 UEFA Nations League amid high expectations.
England did a better job than the Senegalese as both sides picked pace and tried to outplay the other as the game began.
Southgate midfield choices gave the Senegalese a big headache as they choked up the midfield and frequently dispossessed and outclassed the Senegalese side.
Jude Bellingham brought his high class and brilliance to bear taking charge and helping the Three Lions dominate the midfield.
The Borusaia Dortmund playmaker paired up with Liverpool’s Henderson to cripple the Senegalese midfield. Nampaly Mendy struggled to hold the crumbling midfield, hence, he could not match the pace, brilliance and skill of Jude and Henderson.
As a result, the Senegalese defence came under intense pressure from the Three Lions with Harry Kane coming across a series of clear chances.
Despite continuously building pressure in the final third throughout the game, the Three Lions performed below expectations when coming across chances.
Having lost the midfield to their more vigorous opponents, the African champions relied on the flanks to pull an upset. The effectively organized quick counters breaking through the flanks to locate Dia. Diatta was very effective and frequently out-sped Kyle Walker to break into the box.
The short-cut tactics by the Aliou Cisse’s side nearly paid off, with Senegal coming close to three clear chances, but they were unable to convert them. After the first 30 minutes, the scoreline was still 0-0, but England were still the better side.
The African champions played second fiddle to the Gareth Southgate-led team. Even though England could not have secured a win in the first 45 minutes, they gave a good account of themselves. The spirited performance turned the Al Bayt stadium against the Senegalese, with the Three Lions’ fans relishing every moment the team held the ball while booing the Senegalese.
Senegal’s sluggish display finally caught up with them after Harry Kane set up Bellingham for a quick counterattack. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder broke down the left and cut it back for Henderson, who slotted it past Edouard Mendy to cap England’s brilliant moves.
The Three Lions were then sitting on a comfortable 1-0 after 38 minutes of a fruitless charge down the Senegalese box.
The pace and momentum of the game was still far beyond the African champions – forlorn and orphaned passes, duel losses, poor defending killed the game for them.
In the stoppage-time of the first half. Bellingham had picked up a loose ball and and fed Foden who sends it to an unmarked Harry Kane. The England captain fired a thunderbolt pass Edouard Mendy. It was perfect way to head into the break, leading 2-0 after a superb effort.
Jude Bellingham’s game by numbers vs. Senegal:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 4, 2022
100% long balls completed
91% pass accuracy
30 passes completed
7 ground duels won
4/4 tackles won
2/3 aerial duels won
1 key pass
1 big chance created
Exceptional performance. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/krEepEiduB
The African champions offered no concrete response, even after minutes into the second half. Ismalia Sarr and Boulaye Dia lazied upfront as they could not have a clear chance in the game. Kalidou Koulibaly still struggled at the back to keep off Harry Kane, Foden, and Saka as the Three Lions sustained the pressure until they sank Senegal finally, destroying all hopes of a come-back with a third goal from Saka.
Leading 3-0 with few minutes left in the game, Senegal appeared more frustrated going forward and were pretty aware they have lost the game.
The match finally ended with England securing a deserved 3-0 win to set up a quarter-final clash with France, with Jude Bellingham making history as he becomes the first player after Lionel Messi to score and assist in a World Cup under 20-year-old.
🗣️ "Everyone has played a massive role. Everyone has shown so much quality, spirit and character in all four games – it's important we carry it on now."— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) December 4, 2022
⭐️ @BellinghamJude reacts to @England's 3-0 victory over Senegal!
🎤 @CarrieBrownTV #FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022 #ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/KviBZAobya