54 min: Kane slips Saka away down the inside-right channel. Saka aims for the top-right corner but the shot’s always heading high and wide. England look extremely comfortable right now. Senegal haven’t put anything together since the restart.
53 min: Foden drops deep in the pocket. He draws a couple of players before flicking a ball down the inside-left channel with a view to releasing Kane. Right idea, but the pass is overhit.
52 min: Senegal may be two down, but their fans are still giving it plenty. They’ve been on the drums and horns all evening. A sensational soundtrack.
50 min: Sabaly cuts back from the byline to the right of the England goal. Pape Sarr has a whack from distance. He catches it well but the ball’s always sailing wide right.
49 min: Bellingham is everywhere. He now races towards the Senegal box but is checked in the no-nonsense manner by Koulibaly. Senegal are living on the brink right now.
47 min: Jakobs’ clearing header is poor, allowing Henderson to make good down the right. He reaches the byline and stands one up into the middle, but there’s nobody there to score England’s third. “I’m just back from the Co-op,” reports Andrew Benton of pre-kick-off fame. Andrew might have some more shopping to do on Saturday evening, the way this is heading.
England get the second half underway. Senegal make three changes: Ndiaye, Diatta and Ciss are replaced by Gueye, Dieng and Pape Sarr. “Whisper it but that run and ball of Bellingham for the second goal was a little reminiscent of Maradona putting in Caniggia for the winner against Brazil in 1990,” opines Adam Hirst. “The one that made the Brazilian girl cry. A lighter version but similar movements and balance. He really is the business.”
Half-time entertainment. A couple of in-form strikers are awaiting the winner of this one.
HALF TIME: England 2-0 Senegal
England started the half well, sagged worryingly, then finally hit their straps to hit Senegal with a late double whammy. Two fine goals, and England have one foot in the quarter finals. They’re 45 minutes away from a showdown with France!
GOAL! England 2-0 Senegal (Kane 45+3)
Senegal have one last probe for an equaliser before the break. But then they’re bit on the break. Bellingham steals the ball in the Senegal half. He draws a few green shirts but holds them off as he dribbles upfield. Then he slides a pass down the inside left for Foden, who immediately switches it back for Kane, romping free down the inside right. Kane enters the box, and he’s always going to slot past Mendy and open his World Cup 2022 account. Finally. What a time to do it!
45 min +1: Saka crudely bodychecks Sarr, but he’s not going into the book either. On this subject, Joe Pearson sent this in a good half-hour ago: “Referee from El Salvador? Concacaf rules, then. Watch for a lot of physical play not being called. Just sayin’.”
45 min: Rice’s low cross from the right is cut out by Koulibaly for another England corner. Foden looks for Bellingham but Senegal clear. There’ll be two added minutes.
44 min: Henderson has by all accounts been mentoring Bellingham during this World Cup. They marked combining for the goal with a curious but sweet nose-to-nose celebration.
43 min: Bellingham slips Shaw into space down the left. Shaw enters the box, thinks about shooting, then thinks about crossing, then manages neither as Mendy ushers him away from goal. Shaw settles for a corner that leads to nothing.
42 min: England suddenly have their tails up. Saka bustles down the right again and curls into the centre for Foden, who can’t get up high enough to send a header goalwards. Goal kick. Suddenly Senegal could do with hearing the half-time whistle.
41 min: It should be two. Pickford launches long. Saka skitters down the right and cuts back for Kane, who leans back and lifts a shot well over the bar from 12 yards.
40 min: Senegal were starting to get on top back there. But now look. That was a simple but lovely move, and it opened up Senegal with ease.
GOAL! England 1-0 Senegal (Henderson 39)
Kane drops deep to quarterback. He finds Bellingham with a sliderule pass down the inside-left channel. Bellingham reaches the Senegal box and rolls across for Henderson, who calmly steers a first-time shot across Mendy and into the bottom right!
38 min: Ndiaye has the opportunity to release Diatta into the England box down the inside-right channel but overcooks the pass. Goal kick. And then …
37 min: Nothing comes of the resulting free kick.
36 min: Sarr picks Walker’s pocket and makes off down the left wing. Walker tugs him back and should go into the book, but the referee only awards the free kick. Senegal coach Aliou Cissé demands Walker be shown the yellow card, but he’s not getting his wish.
35 min: That really was a fine save by Pickford. Not only was the ball unpredictably ballooning up from the turf, Stones was also in the road attempting to block. He’d have seen it late. What reactions.
33 min: Kane works the ball in from the left, looking for Saka in the Senegal box. Jakobs gets in between ball and man, allowing Edouard Mendy to come off his line to claim.
32 min: Saka cheaply gifts possession to Sarr down the left. Sarr cuts infield, thinks about shooting, then plays a cute reverse pass down the inside-left channel. Dia strides into the box and whistles a shot into the ground and across Pickford, in the direction of the bottom right. Pickford sticks out a strong arm to block brilliantly, and with Dia unable to react to the rebound, England are able to clear. Another good chance for Senegal!
30 min: A period of sustained patient Senegalese possession now. One for the purists at the moment, this match.
28 min: England slow the game right down. Again. Stones eventually gets fed up and tries a Hollywood pass. Intercepted. The ball breaks to Maguire who hoicks upfield with extreme prejudice. You’ve seen better periods of play this month.
26 min: England take the sting out of the game with a little bit of sterile professionalism in the centre circle. Not the worst idea in the wake of that close call, Senegal with their tails up. “Just imagine if this possession stat was tracked back in the old Crazy Gang days,” writes Andy ‘Not that one’ Flintoff. “Wimbledon 20%, Watford 20%, 60% in contest.”
24 min: There’s a quick check by VAR for a penalty, but you can’t be penalising Stones for that, and the game is soon underway again.
23 min: A huge chance for Senegal! Maguire’s poor clearance is intercepted by Diatta, who crosses from the right. Dia highkicks on the penalty spot. The ball pings off Stones’ knee and onto his forearm, then breaks to Sarr, who blazes over from six yards. What an opportunity!
21 min: Walker attempts to cut infield from the right. The ball pings off Sarr. Corner, though it takes the referee and linesman an absolute age to award it. More standing around. Eventually it’s fired in by Foden. Stones heads-and-shoulders it wide and high right. Goal kick.
19 min: England suddenly slow down to a virtual halt. Maguire and Stones with the ball at their feet, the incredible standing men. There’s patience and there’s patience.
17 min: … so having said that, Ndiaye bothers Maguire down the right wing and nearly bursts clear. Stones comes across to make sure no serious problem develops for England.
16 min: Senegal are struggling to hold onto possession in the England half. How they’ll be missing Sadio Mané. “What is IN Contest’s xG from all this possession?” wonders Richard Hirst.
14 min: Diallo is a split second late on Kane and earns himself the first lecture of the match.
13 min: England are enjoying a fair bit of joy down the left flank. Kane whips in a cross that again has Edouard Mendy flapping. Saka trots into the six-yard box without too much conviction. A little more, and he might have trundled that home from close range.
12 min: England have enjoyed 60 percent of possession so far. Senegal just 25. The mysterious IN Contest makes off with his usual 15 percent share.
10 min: The ball is switched out. It’s gone flat.
9 min: Edouard Mendy gives Diallo a hospital pass, and Saka nearly steals the ball away in the Senegal box. Mendy makes up for it by reclaiming possession. England come again, Bellingham swinging a gorgeous ball in from the left. Mendy continues to act skittishly, flapping at the cross, but there’s nobody in a white shirt to take advantage.
8 min: England break out a training-ground move. The free kick’s worked short to Walker on the right, then back towards Maguire on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. Maguire hooks a cross into the centre. Senegal clear.
7 min: Bellingham wins another free kick, this time by working his way down the left only to be skittled by Diatta. England load the box. Shaw prepares to deliver.
6 min: Senegal are pressing England hard in these early exchanges. Ciss gets up in Bellingham’s grille. A garden variety foul, but he’s let the England midfielder know he’s there.
4 min: Dia goes racing at speed down the inside-right channel and makes it all the way into the England box. Neither Maguire nor Stones look particularly happy as they give chase, but between them they manage to shut the door just in time, the ball coming off Maguire’s shin and bobbling into Pickford’s possession. That got the crowd going.
3 min: Henderson steals the ball off a snoozing Nampalys Mendy. For a second, it looked as though he’d tear into a bit of space down the left, but the legs won’t take him there. Henderson keeps probing, though, and nearly releases Foden into the box. The ball flies out for a goal kick.
2 min: Senegal ping the ball around hectically for a minute or so. Pickford blooters it into the stand. A fairly nondescript start.
England take the knee … and Senegal get the ball rolling. Here we go, then!
The teams are out! England in white, Senegal in green. A fantastic atmosphere bubbling up at the Al Bayt Stadium. We’ll be off after the Senegalese national anthem Le Lion rouge, and the English equivalent God Save The [Mumbled Confusion]. Everyone still getting used to it, you see. “The last time I went to the Co-op, England scored two goals in quick succession,” begins Andrew Benton. “I’m now in a quandary of sorts – should I go immediately at 7pm to ensure we get off to a good start and have a nice early dinner to boot, or bear the pangs of hunger until a bit later for a rip-roaring fightback?”
Gareth Southgate is asked about Raheem Sterling’s absence by ITV. “He’s dealing with a family matter. I’ve had quite a bit of time with him this morning, but I’ve now had to pass that on to other people to help him with that. He’s going to go and deal with that matter, and we’ll have to take it from there.”
As for his team selection? “Saka was excellent in our first two matches. Marcus was also very good. It’s great to have him able to come into the game as it opens up. We have an embarrassment of riches in that area of the pitch. We’ve liked Bukayo’s performances, and think Phil and him deserve that opportunity.”
And what do England have to do to win? “We’ve got to play our way. We’ve got to play to our strengths. We’ve shown what we’re about in this tournament, and have to continue that tonight. Resilience, experience. You have to be able to adapt, adjust and respond to everything that is thrown at you. You have to be there with the answers, and we have to do that tonight.
The hotly* anticipated** return of PENNANT WATCH! The trinket Harry Kane will be handing over couldn’t scream THIS’LL DO more loudly if THIS’LL DO was printed on it in 96-point type. The FA may as well print out a sheet of A4 and be done with it.
His opposite number Kalidou Koulibaly will present a much more lively number. Bold without being busy, colourful yet uncluttered. Mind you, a thicker, plusher, more generous helping of tasseling wouldn’t have gone amiss. There’s a thin line between decadence and desolation.
Pre-match postbag o’philosophical pondering. “According to your French fellow MBMer at the RMC Sport, who I’d like to think sips on a lovely burgundy throughout the match, Jules Koundé has said that France don’t have a preference for which side they face. In their shoes I’d be more confident about outscoring the English offence than I would about getting past Koulibaly and company in the Senegalese defence” – Kári Tulinius.
“I think we (and various pundits) need to move beyond the idea that not playing from the start equates to being ‘dropped’, I don’t think that’s how the game works any more. If Southgate has a plan for the whole game, that should include judicious use of substitutes (probably including Rashford). If that plan works, then great. If it doesn’t, then the pitchforks come out. Such is life, but the idea that a starting place always outranks coming off the bench seems outdated” – Tom Hopkins.
“Interesting to know about the intra-African rivalries. On the other hand, with the possible exception of Brazil and Argentina, Latin Americans tend to cheer for whichever one of us is left in the tournament, even if our departure was at the hands of each other. In fact, I would say this goodwill extends even to Spain and the United States. Maybe rather than being continent based, it’s based on a sense of shared identity? I wonder if the world marking us out as Latinos, a grouping which has no basis in race or ethnicity, makes it so we see ourselves as one precisely because the world groups us this way? I wonder” – Casiano Martinez.
Bukayo Saka’s replacement of Marcus Rashford is the one change to the England starting XI from the 3-0 defeat of Wales. Raheem Sterling is absent altogether as he deals with a family matter.
Senegal are without defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye. The Everton man picked up his second yellow of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Ecuador and is suspended. Nampalys Mendy of Leicester City takes over in midfield, while Monaco winger Krepin Diatta replaces Pape Gueye.
England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Henderson, Rice, Bellingham, Saka, Kane, Foden.
Subs: Grealish, Rashford, Trippier, Pope, Phillips, Dier, Coady, Alexander-Arnold, Mount, Ramsdale, Wilson, Maddison, Gallagher.
Senegal: Edouard Mendy, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, Jakobs, Ciss, Nampalys Mendy, Ndiaye, Diatta, Ismaila Sarr, Dia.
Subs: Seny Dieng, Formose Mendy, Cisse, Jackson, Moussa N’Diaye, Ballo-Toure, Pape Sarr, Diedhiou, Ahmadou Dieng, Gomis, Name, Loum N’Diaye, Pape Gueye.
Referee: Ivan Barton (El Salvador).
Confirmation that Saka gets the nod over Rashford. In social-media form. The old-school way of doing things via the wires coming right up.
Bukayo Saka for Marcus Rashford: a contentious decision? It’s not, is it. “I’m astonished Rashford isn’t playing,” said Gary Lineker on the BBC. But Gareth Southgate can’t play everyone. Yes, Rashford is best-poised right now to chase down five-goal Kylian Mbappé for the Golden Boot, after scoring his second and third goals of this World Cup against Wales. But then Saka notched twice in an impressive performance against Iran. File this one under: Nice Problem To Have. Of course, as Jonathan Wilson pointed out the other day, if/when it goes the shape of a pear for England, Southgate will get it in the neck whatever he does, so he may as well call it as he sees it.
An update from Our Jacob via That Elon.
Some early team news courtesy of Jacob Steinberg in Qatar. “We’re still waiting for confirmed team news but word at the Al Bayt Stadium is that Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden both start for England. Raheem Sterling has not won his place back. It means likely disappointment for Marcus Rashford, who has three goals in three games.”
The champions of Africa against the runners-up of Euro 2020. It’s a big one, this, all right.
But let’s get it straight: tonight, Senegal will be representing
the whole of Africa Senegal. As Nedum Onuoha explained on Football Weekly a couple of days ago, the notion that the entire continent cheers together as one “needs to be put in the bin” (from 14m 57s). Fans of Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and the Cote d’Ivoire, to pull some random examples out of the ether, may have trenchant views on the possibility of the Lions of Teranga making it to the quarters.
Having said that, from a Lions of Three perspective, it’s still worth taking a quick look at England’s record against African nations at the World Cup. They’ve never lost, which is good news for those who use history as a crutch. However, they’ve never really impressed either. A competent 2-0 win over Tunisia in 1998, a deserved last-gasp Harry Kane-inspired victory against the same opponents 20 years later, and that’s about it.
What else? A goalless draw against Morocco in 1986, during which Ray Wilkins lost the noggin, threw the ball at the ref, and became the first England player to be sent packing at the World Cup. A goalless draw against Algeria in 2010, after which Wayne Rooney’s lid started to rattle disconcertingly, having a pop back at fans who were having a pop at him. A goalless draw against Nigeria in 2002 that was nondescript even by the standards of the Sven-Goran Eriksson era. And then there was Italia 90. England scraped past Egypt 1-0, then against Cameroon in the quarter-finals were, to quote Macka B, “lucky, lucky, very lucky, lucky”.
So it’s swings and roundabouts. A place in the quarter finals against France is the prize on offer. Kick off is at 7pm BST, 10pm at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. انه يحدث! It’s on!