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World Cup Review 11.29: Rashford shines as England selection headache comes to the fore against Wales

Natalia Richardson

Updated: Nov 30, 2022 03:08

Marcus Rashford shines as Gareth Southgate's England selection headache comes to the fore against Wales - World Cup hits and misses

Plus: Could unlocking Phil Foden's potential be the key to England's success in Qatar? At the age of 33, has talisman Gareth Bale played his final game for Wales? Do the USA pose a bigger threat than many give them credit for?

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Gareth Southgate embraces Marcus Rashford as the striker is substituted

England don't have long to revel in their win over Wales - attention must swiftly turn to their last-16 tie with Senegal. And Gareth Southgate has some important selection issues to mull over before that showdown on Sunday evening.

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Can he really put Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden ahead of Raheem Sterling or Bukayo Saka at this point? After the players they replaced found it difficult to match their performances against Iran when they faced the USA, the two goal scorers against Wales demonstrated the fantastic shape they are in.

Does Mason Mount return to the midfield because Jude Bellingham's No. 10 position wasn't a tremendous success there even if Jordan Henderson brought leadership?

Foden shines on the left for England

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Phil Foden celebrates scoring against Wales

"He is a great option in two or three positions and he will have a big impact," said Gareth Southgate amid the clamour for Phil Foden's inclusion. He made that impact in his second position of the night in England's emphatic 3-0 win over Wales.

Foden opened the scoring from the left early in the second half after playing on the right side of the forward line in the first. For his two goals, Marcus Rashford deserved to win player of the match, but this contest demonstrated what Foden can provide the club as well.

Foden's spirited run led to the free kick that Rashford converted. Moments later, Foden was on hand to score the second goal, a play that started with him pressing the full-back to send the ball backwards from the kick-off.

Wales head for home - is Bale's chapter over?

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Gareth Bale looks dejected after Wales crash out of the World Cup

In an effort to neutralize England, Wales set up in an extremely defensive shape, and for 50 minutes, it was successful. The back four proved to be strong and stubborn, with Marcus Rashford's flash of pure brilliance being the only thing that broke their resistance. Then all of a sudden, the chains were removed. The players for Gareth Southgate were here to compete. Wales made an effort to slow down, but before the applause for Rashford's goal had even subsided, they were two down.

England's perspective changed. Wales was unable to stop them from unraveling as they became more intentional and expressive. Rob Page said, "The effort the players put in off the ball was remarkable," which sums up their disastrous game plan perfectly. Maybe it was the realistic play. However, Kieffer Moore's head via Harry Maguire's shot on target was never going to be enough to damage England. Wales lost this knockout match and was eliminated.

Write off the USA at your peril

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Christian Pulisic scores the USA's winner

Pre-World Cup reports that the US would be eliminated look to have been considerably overstated in light of the group stage results, and the Netherlands had better not underrate Gregg Berhalter's team when they face them on Saturday in the round of 16.

Christian Pulisic's close-range goal and the US's second consecutive World Cup clean sheet helped the US defeat Iran in their last Group B match. However, the Chelsea forward was hurt while scoring and, worryingly ahead of the weekend match, had to be replaced at halftime.

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Christian Pulisic is helped off the pitch after suffering an injury

But make no mistake, this is a well-drilled team with speed in attack, on the wings, and in the middle of the park, as well as plenty of technique to go with it, as evidenced by the impressive performances made so far in Qatar by players like captain Tyler Adams, Sergino Dest, Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, Pulisic, and Timothy Weah.

The US has already demonstrated that they are more than capable of competing with the so-called Big Boys of international football by holding England to a goalless draw, even if the Oranje are unquestionably a step up in class from playing against Wales and Iran.

Therefore, do not be shocked if the US makes things very difficult for Louis van Gaal and company this weekend at the Khalifa International Stadium, much like they did to highly anticipated Belgium the last time they advanced to the World Cup knockout stages in 2014.

Sarr, Ndiaye step up in Mane absence

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Senegal's Ismaila Sarr celebrates with team-mates after scoring a penalty

Senegal's inclusion in the round of 16 is mostly due to their wide players. Ismaila Sarra and Iliman Ndiaye filled up for the injured Sadio Mane to help Aliou Cisse's team defeat Ecuador. They will certainly cause issues for England as well.

Sarr was the most significant of the two, earning the penalty for the first goal and then converting it on his own. Piero Hincapie committed the foul, one of eight that Sarr picked up throughout the contest.

The Watford winger proved to be too much for Ecuador to handle, as right-back Angelo Preciado endured a trying evening while miraculously avoiding a booking despite committing six different violations.

Only Neymar has won more fouls than Sarr in a single game at this World Cup and, over on the opposite side, Ndiaye, a Championship rival of Sarr's with Sheffield United, and another player who surely belongs in the top-flight, was similarly impressive.

The 22-year-old was making his first start for Senegal having only broken into their squad this year but, having grabbed a late assist as a substitute in the win over Qatar, he picked up where he left off at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Like Sarr against Preciado, Ndiaye caused serious problems for Estupinan.

He completed four dribbles in total - the most by any player in the game - and also popped up in dangerous positions in the Ecuador box, further destabilising their creaking defence.

Senegal have weaknesses. Their play lacks cohesion at times and even Qatar have been able to find a way through their defence at this tournament. But even without Mane, Sarr and Ndiaye ensure there is pace, creativity and goal threat on the flanks.

Gakpo is the real deal - it's his World Cup so far

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Cody Gakpo of the Netherlands celebrates his goal against Qatar

Left foot, right foot, and header. Cody Gakpo is enjoying the ideal competition.

The Dutch forward, who has three goals in three straight World Cup games, is the primary reason that they easily won their group and advanced to the knockout rounds.

He is a fantastic talent at the age of 23, and it's not just because of the variety of his three distinct goals. He plays center forward for his nation while playing wide for his club. He can play further back or in the penalty area as needed, as evidenced by his goal against Qatar, but he can also come from deep.

Qatar bow out in disappointment

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Qatar bowed out of the tournament with three defeats

Already out of the tournament after two games, Tuesday night was a chance for the host nation to avoid some unwanted World Cup history against the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, they failed to do so. They became the first hosts to not pick up a single win or a even a point in the group stage, while they also became the first ever individual host nation to lose three matches at a single World Cup tournament.

They also conceded seven goals, the outright most ever by a single host nation in the same group round of an edition of the tournament. Their plan to begin a training camp in June clearly didn't work.

Needless to say the show will very much go on without them.

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