England defeated Senegal 3-0 to go to the World Cup quarterfinals against France, with Harry Kane scoring his first goal of the tournament.
After Jordan Henderson opened the score 10 minutes earlier, the Tottenham striker increased England’s lead in first-half injury time.
Bukayo Saka scored his third goal of the finals after 57 minutes to round out an unexpectedly easy victory.
England’s next job is unlikely to be as simple, as Les Bleus and Kylian Mbappe await on Saturday.
A tedious first half hour was memorable primarily for the amount of times England squandered possession in crucial locations, with Senegal failing to capitalize on their chances.
Boulaye Da saw a close-range shot hit John Stones, with VAR ruling there was no case for a penalty, before Jordan Pickford was called upon to make a great save from 10 yards to deny the Salernitana striker.
England finally awoke from their slumber and took the lead seven minutes before the break with a true quality move. Kane released Jude Bellingham in the left channel, and Henderson converted his low cross.
Three minutes later, an almost identical play, but this time from the right, Saka sliding it across for Kane, who shot wastefully over the bar, could have made it 2-0.
However, Gareth Southgate’s men doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time. Bellingham won the ball on the edge of his own area and raced through midfield before finding Foden on the left. Kane took one touch before smashing past Edouard Mendy after Foden slid it across for him.
12 minutes into the second half, England put the game out of reach. Kane’s pass was intercepted, and Foden picked up the loose ball and played a centre for Saka to lift the ball over Mendy.
Senegal’s life had long ago been drained, with Southgate able to make many adjustments with France in mind.
What does it imply?
England has scored 12 goals in four World Cup matches this year, matching their record for most goals scored in a single major tournament (World Cup and Euros).
However, England will need to improve on their first half-hour performance in this game when they face the defending champions next. Senegal was surprisingly weak in attack; France will not be.
Brilliant Bellingham is the gold standard.
The Borussia Dortmund player shone once more in a more advanced role, with Henderson stepping in behind Declan Rice.
The 19-year-old Bellingham became the first youngster to assist in a World Cup knockout stage game in as long as such records have been kept (from 1966 onwards). He subsequently contributed to the second goal with a trademark driving run.
Henderson’s match knowledge is on display once more.
Henderson may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he simply makes teams better. England, the winner of seven major championships at Liverpool, has appeared more unified since Henderson was added in the last group game against Wales.
What comes next?
England will face France on Saturday. Senegal, who will be dissatisfied with their performance on the night, has reached the end of the journey.