England captain Harry Kane hailed the maturity of his young Lions as they booked a quarter-final clash with France after dismantling Senegal with a 3-0 win.
The Tottenham striker became England’s highest ever scorer at major tournaments after Jordan Henderson opened the scoring, with Bukayo Saka deftly chipping Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy to complete the rout at Al Bayt Stadium.
The Three Lion’s reward is a crunch quarter-final clash against current holders France next Saturday.
Gareth Southgate won plaudits for his changes bringing in Jordan Henderson and Phil Foden as well as compassionately allowing Raheem Sterling to fly back home and check on his children after an armed break-in in his Surrey home.
England v Senegal FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar | Round of 16 | 4th December 2022
After the match, Kane told ITV: “It was really tough, knockout games are never easy.
“I think we’ve showed great maturity through the tournament, and 3-0 against a really good side, credit to the boys, the mentality was top from the beginning and we took our chances when they came.
“We feel good, we’ve got good runners, good players getting forward, and it’s solid at the back, three clean sheets in a row is really important. A really good day for us.”
Regarding his goal, which leaves him one behind Wayne Rooney’s all-time England scoring record, Kane said: “I had so much time, the ball just sat up nicely, the connection was perfect.
“I had a chance before that which I should have done better with, so it was nice to see that one go in. I’m a striker, so whenever I score I’m always happy.”
He said: “We have got to wait and see.
“At the moment the priority is for him to be with him family and we are going to support that and him to have as much time as he needs.”
Sterling was shaken up by news and, as soon as he learned about the incident, wanted to return home to check on the well-being of his three children.
On the game, Southgate said The Three Lions had “made a very complicated game tonight look straightforward – that wasn’t the case, but I think because of the mentality, the attitude, we’ve made it look that way.”
Regarding the quarter-final against France, he said: “Outstanding team with a phenomenal tournament record, and some outstanding individuals. Without a doubt that’s a game where we have to find our highest possible level.”
The England team won plaudits across the board with fans dreaming it might actually be coming home.
BBC presenter Gary Linekar tweeted: “Beautiful football again from @England. Credit to Gareth Southgate for his decisions. Both his controversial picks have played a part and scored. What a time to be alive!”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “What a game @England. Huge match next weekend against France. But is anyone else starting to believe that it might be coming home…?”
Now attention turns to the clash with France, with Gary Neville highlighting the pivotal battle between Kylian Mbappe and Kyle Walker.
Mbappe scored his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament, and set one up, earlier in the day as France beat Poland 3-1.
When Neville was asked how Mbappe could be stopped, he said: “Very difficult. But I think for a couple of weeks in all of our minds we thought it was a collision course between him and Kyle Walker.
“I can’t actually think of another right-back in the world that I’d want to put up against him. That doesn’t mean that Kyle will mark him out of the game. This is a sensational player, the new best player in the world. Devastating. (But) Kyle will get closer to him, he’s got more pace than the Polish players had.”