Marcus Rashford Shines As England Demolish Wales To Top The Group

Rashford scored twice to make his case to maintain a place in the starting lineup
21:01, 29 Nov 2022

Marcus Rashford was the star of the show as he grabbed a brace in England’s 3-0 demolition of Wales to see the Three Lions progress to the World Cup knockout stages as Group B winners while sending the Dragons crashing out of the tournament.

Gareth Southgate needed to freshen things up after the flat performance against USA and four players came into his lineup to face Wales - and it certainly helped the side to deliver. Kieran Trippier, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount came out for Kyle Walker,  Rashford, Phil Foden and Jordan Henderson, with the two attackers from Manchester the most impactful. 

While the first half was slow at times, England were the team in control and something was bubbling. It all came to fruition early in the second half as the Three Lions scored two in quick succession to stun the Dragons. Rashford stepped up to fire a free-kick into the far corner before Foden popped up at the back post for a simple finish to seal both England and Wales’ fate. 


Rashford later doubled his own tally to wrap-up the three points for England with a nice solo run which he fired toward Danny Ward and it somehow found its way into the back of the net. The goal was a special one for England as it was the 100th goal scored by the Three Lions at the World Cup finals.

It was good to see England's players react after the interval. They clearly addressed what they were lacking in the first 45 and then delivered the display that was needed to not only send them through as group winners, but to put the USA game firmly behind them. Southgate deserves a lot of credit for switching it up in the second half with Rashford and Foden swapping sides which was crucial in England getting their just reward.

Rashford’s performance in particular further highlights how much of a personal renaissance he has undergone this season. He has been having much more of an effect at Manchester United which got him back into the England picture, and now he is making himself undroppable for the Three Lions with three goals already this tournament (joint-highest)

The game almost sprung to life early on when Harry Kane slipped through Rashford and his effort was parried by Ward around the 10-minute mark but it soon quietened down again as it was another poor half of football that this tournament has seen. So many England players weren’t on the same wavelength when it came to attempting intricate passes or setting attackers away - but that quickly changed after the break.

Wales offered very little other than a relatively compact shape in the first half, and that was largely down to England’s passing not being as pin-point as it could have been. That is something the Three Lions need to work on in their first-half showings. It wasn't a coincidence that the times they broke through the Dragons’ defensive lines was when they played fast, one-touch football.

The creativity started to make an appearance for England just before the break. A fine passing move involving Foden and Jude Bellingham resulted in the former blazing an effort over the bar, and while it was a poor effort, it showed signs that there was going to be more to come.

England needed more quality in the second half and they delivered the goods quickly. Rashford struck a sublime free-kick from the left into the far corner to get the Three Lions up and running and a quick second followed as Kane picked out Foden at the far post for a simple finish. The England fans were fired up while the Welsh fans saw their World Cup dream fade in a matter of seconds. The game was wrapped up when Rashford weaved his way into the Welsh box before firing a shot at Ward which found its way into the back of the net.

The Dragons did appear to be slightly more adventurous themselves but they were devoid of any real quality to pose any real threat to England’s back line. 

Elsewhere, Christian Pulisic’s first-half strike was enough to see USA defeat Iran as they joined England in progressing to the knockout stages. The Stars and Stripes turned in a dominant display against Iran, like they did against England, and fully merited their victory in what has been a strong group stage campaign.

USA will face Group A winners Netherlands on Saturday while England will face the runners-up Senegal on Sunday.

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