England cruised past Senegal 3-0 in their first World Cup knockout match, with a mouth-watering clash against holders France awaiting them in the last eight.
Two quick-fire goals – the first from Jordan Henderson, the second from Harry Kane – put Gareth Southgate’s side in control going into the half-time break, after what had been a nervy start at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar.
Senegal, the African Cup of Nations champions, had chances to open the scoring and forced a fine save from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford before his namesake Henderson struck in the 38th minute.
But the second half was far more comfortable for the Three Lions, and Arsenal’s young star Bukayo Saka scored his third goal of the tournament in the 57th minute to rubber-stamp the victory.
Kane’s goal in first-half added time means he has now scored 11 goals at major tournaments, seven in the World Cup and four in the Euros, overtaking Gary Lineker as England’s all-time top scorer in major tournaments.
England face the toughest test they could ask for in the next round, after record-setting goals from French strikers Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe helped the 2018 winners see off Poland in the earlier Sunday game.
Young Lions roar in impressive victory
Playing in their first knockout match on the world stage since the painful extra-time 2018 semi-final loss to Croatia, Southgate’s men showed both quality and growing maturity to progress.
But while it was Henderson and Kane who got the goals that helped England neuter an impressive Senegalese start, youngsters Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden shone brightest under the floodlights.
The former, aged just 19, added to his growing reputation with a superb performance and laid on the assist for his midfield partner Henderson.
Bellingham also led a brilliant breakaway for Kane’s fine goal, before Manchester City star Foden, 22, played in the skipper to slam home.
And Saka, himself just 21, repaid the manager’s faith in starting him over Marcus Rashford by clipping the ball past Edouard Mendy to kill off the contest.
Brilliant Bellingham key to England’s quarter finals progression. By Joe Rawson, sports editor, Sky News Radio
England cruised to the last eight of the World Cup with their 3-0 victory over Senegal.
Jordan Henderson, captain Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka might have been the goalscorers, but it was 19-year-old Jude Bellingham who turned the game in the Three Lions’ favour.
The Borussia Dortmund player became the first teenager since records began to assist a World Cup goal, crossing the ball for Liverpool captain Henderson to score the first.
He also played an integral part in the second and third goals, using his prowess and power to start the England attacks.
To followers of the Bundesliga, Bellingham’s performance won’t have come as a surprise, with him regularly producing the sort of quality we’ve seen in Qatar for his German club.
The former Birmingham youngster is comfortable playing in a deep lying or forward pressing central position, with him asked to do both roles in the tournament so far.
At the Al Bayt Stadium, he was key in helping Gareth Southgate’s team transition from defence to attack with his lung-busting runs with the ball, comparable to those of former England star Frank Lampard.
His awareness of when to pass at the right time, when to drive forward, and his ability to keep hold of possession has been crucial to his country’s success so far.
Gary Lineker tweeted: “Goodness me, @BellinghamJude is unbelievably good. He’s the leader in this team. His parents must be so proud. Love him.”
While Roy Keane working as a pundit for ITV said: “He’s going to be a superstar, that kid. We keep using the word maturity, but he plays like he’s played 100 times for England.”
Bellingham played his part down in a post match interview with host broadcaster beIn Sports. He said: “Everyone played a massive role, with everyone showing character and spirit. I just try to do my bit.”
Bellingham will come up against another one of football’s young stars, Kylian Mbappé, when they play defending champions France in the last eight on Saturday.
Both will be crucial to their nations’ hopes of going on to lift the trophy.
England were in cruise control from that point, and Southgate rung the changes with progress assured to consecutive World Cup quarter-finals – something the national team last managed in 2002 and 2006.
Kane: We feel good about how we’re playing
Spurs star Kane hailed a “really good day” for the Three Lions, telling ITV his team had shown “great maturity”.
“It was really tough, knockout games are never easy,” he said.
“I think we’ve showed great maturity through the tournament, and 3-0 against a really good side, credit to the boys, the mentality was top from the beginning, and we took our chances when they came.
“We feel good, we’ve got good runners, good players getting forward, and it’s solid at the back, three clean sheets in a row is really important. A really good day for us.”
Meanwhile, Southgate said he is looking forward to England’s test against the “very best” in reigning champions France, who eased into the quater-finals with a 3-1 win over Poland.
The England manager said: “It’s the biggest test that we can face.
“They’re world champions, incredible depth of talent, outstanding individual players, very difficult to play against and to score goals against.
“It’s a fantastic challenge, a brilliant game for us to prepare for.
“The two quarter-finals that are already in place are fantastic, historic football rivalries and great games from the past.
“A brilliant game for us to be involved with and test ourselves against the very best.”
England’s goals were greeted by raucous scenes not just in the stadium, but across the country back home.
Fans will now be able to enjoy the week ahead before the game against France on Saturday, again at 7pm UK time.