A rejuvenated Rashford later added the final flourish with a third – his nation’s 100th World Cup goal.
Under oft-maligned manager Gareth Southgate, they ventured to the World Cup’s final four in 2018 before falling just short on home soil at last year’s Euros, so certainly have a track-record to support hopes of claiming a first global title since 1966.
Now set to meet Group A runners-up Senegal in Al Khor, England have yet to lose in 20 matches against African opposition, so Southgate’s current crop surely start as favourites to progress on Sunday.
Their quest for an elusive second World Cup started in the aftermath of an awful run of results through 2022 – during which time they were relegated from the top tier of UEFA’s Nations League – but a return to form for Manchester United pair Rashford and Harry Maguire has played its part in building momentum behind their Qatari campaign.
Despite their near misses, England have also accrued plenty of tournament experience over the past few years, so will kick off their last-16 clash brimful of confidence too.
Senegal should not lack in that most precious of commodities either, as they arrived in the Middle East as African champions and have since negotiated safe passage to the knockout phase for just a second time.
The centre-back’s controlled volley was required after Ismaila Sarr’s first-half penalty had been equalised by their South American opponents, and Aliou Cisse’s side ultimately backed up a straightforward victory over Qatar.
Cisse, supported by assistant El Hadji Diouf – another hero of Senegal’s legendary 2002 campaign – now aims to lead his nation into the quarter-finals; perhaps setting up an emotional re-match with France, who they slayed in the finals’ opening game some 20 years ago.
The former Birmingham City midfielder may be without star man Sadio Mane in Qatar, but since his appointment in 2015 has nurtured a spirited and tactically aware squad – the bulk of which lifted a first Africa Cup of Nations trophy in February, after winning the final on penalties.
While African teams have lost eight of nine World Cup knockout matches against European opponents to date – the sole exception being a Senegalese win over Sweden – if it comes to spot-kicks the Lions of Teranga could therefore hold a distinct edge over their English counterparts, who have so often seen shootouts result in painful failure.
Possible starting lineup:
Data will be available at kick off time or sooner.
England = 64.1%
Draw = 16.1%
Senegal = 19.8%
England 3-1 Senegal
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