Wed | Feb 8, 2023

England in quarterfinals after emphatic win

Published:Monday | December 5, 2022 | 12:11 AM
England’s Harry Kane celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between England and Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar yesterday.
England’s Harry Kane celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between England and Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar yesterday.

AL KHOR, Qatar (AP):

Like all great strikers, Harry Kane’s timing was perfect.

The England captain got off the mark yesterday, scoring his first goal at this year’s World Cup in a 3-0 victory over Senegal that set up a must-see match against France in the quarterfinals.

“I was waiting patiently to try to score, and thankfully, that was today,” said Kane, who was the leading scorer at the last World Cup. “I feel good, and hopefully, this can start a good run for me personally because I know that will help the team as well.”

It certainly was a good time for Kane to end his dry spell in Qatar because Kylian Mbappe, the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals, is waiting to face England on Saturday at Al Bayt Stadium.

With that in mind, England could do with its most prolific striker at his sharpest.

“It is the biggest test that we can face,” England coach Gareth Southgate said. “They are world champions, they have an incredible depth of talent, outstanding individual players, very difficult to play against and score goals against. It is a fantastic challenge.

“(Mbappe) is a world-class player, has already delivered in big moments in this tournament and in previous tournaments.”

Kane scored six goals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, each one helping England reach the semi-finals. But it has been harder this time around, with the captain having to wait until first-half stoppage time against Senegal to finally get one.

When the moment came, he never looked like missing. Head down, he powered a shot past Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to put England ahead 2-0. Then, arms spread wide, the relief poured out as he ran away in celebration.

“As a striker, scoring goals is what you do, and it’s one of the best feelings you can have in football,” Kane said. “The ball just sat up nicely and the connection was perfect. I had one just before that I should have done better with, so it was nice to see that one go in.”

It was Kane’s 52nd goal for England, moving him within one of Wayne Rooney’s national record. He also overtook Gary Lineker as his country’s leading scorer in major tournaments with 11 goals.

“You could see the lift that gave him in the second half,” Southgate said. “For any striker, when you haven’t scored, it is there in the back of your mind and you get that lift of confidence when it comes.”

England’s great strength at this year’s World Cup has been the number of different goal threats they have, and another emerged yesterday when Jordan Henderson gave his team the lead. Bukayo Saka completed the scoring with his third of the tournament.