Gareth Southgate told his England players that it is milkshakes all round after they booked a World Cup last-16 date with Senegal and earned a day off, but also warned “the big business starts now”.
England topped Group B with a 3-0 victory over Wales in which Marcus Rashford scored twice and dedicated his goals to his friend Garfield Hayward, who died ahead of the game.
Southgate allowed his England squad to relax with a few beers after they qualified from the group stages at the Russia World Cup, but recognised they would need to relax with a different drink in Qatar, where alcohol is only available at certain licensed hotels and restaurants.
Asked what his players would drink with beer off the menu, Southgate said: “We’ve got loads of milkshake back at the hotel. Everything is different, so we’re embracing it. We love our base camp, the people that are operating the hotel are fabulous people, really we couldn’t be happier. We’re enjoying each other’s company, the players are really tight. So to this point we’re really pleased and, of course, the big business starts now really.”
Southgate revealed that his players would be given Wednesday off before starting their preparations for the Senegal game, which will take place on Sunday evening.
“They’ve got a day off their feet,” said Southgate. “They don’t have to train tomorrow [Wednesday] – that’s important. Especially the players who haven’t started as many games, they’ve been training every single day. They don’t have to look at our faces, which I’m sure they’ll be delighted with, and we can start to prepare for the knockout round.
Southgate and his backroom staff will not have a day off. On the challenge Senegal will pose, he added: “From now when we go on the coach to go home we’ll be studying games to prepare for the game. We know quite a few of the individuals. They have some big players playing in big leagues across Europe. Some play in England. We know that on the rankings we’ll be the favourites. We’ve got to deal with that, but we play a very dangerous team.”
Rashford pointed to the sky in celebration when he scored against Wales. He explained: “Unfortunately, I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago. He's had quite a long battle with cancer, so I'm pleased I managed to score for him. He's always been a big supporter of mine, he was just a great person and I'm pleased he came into my life really.”
Southgate added: “I didn’t have any idea, so that didn’t manifest itself in his body language or demeanour. It wasn’t something he mentioned to us. I’ve just heard outside what had happened and I did wonder because it’s not his usual celebration. So he’ll be able to articulate that memory.”
Rashford and Bellingham draw praise
Ex-England striker Alan Shearer was particularly impressed with Rashford, saying that the forward could be the tournament's top scorer.
"Marcus Rashford – what a game he has," he said in the BBC studio post game. He wasn’t in the team at the start of the tournament. He comes on, he scores. Now look at him, he’s joint top scorer at the World Cup and he’s in with a great shout of the golden boot.”
Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand said that the striker seemed to be enjoying his football more than last season: "He didn’t look happy for a while, [he] didn’t have a smile on his face. When you’ve got a smiling, confident, hard-working Marcus Rashford, he’s a devastating player and a game changer."
Ex-Wales striker Ian Rush added: “If you’re going to go all the way you’re going to need him to be like he was today.”
The pundits also spoke highly of Jude Bellingham, who has started all of England's matches at the World Cup so far.
Ferdinand said: “The skillset that he has, his presence on the pitch at this young age.
“At times he plays with an experience that is beyond his years. Other players are looking at him to do things and to produce moments in the game."
Presenter Gary Lineker added: “He’s got absolutely everything.”
'Welsh lessons to be learned'
Ex-Wales defender Ashley Williams admitted that there was a "gulf" between the two sides over the course of the game.
Williams said: "There was a big gulf in quality tonight. I think tonight was better in terms of performance. I know we lost the game but where we went wrong was in the first two games. We came into the World Cup a little bit hesitant, waiting to see what happens instead of being on the front foot and taking it straight to the USA in the first half of the first game.
“The wider picture for Wales is trying to qualify for consecutive tournaments over and over and building on the lessons that need to be learned from this World Cup and rebuilding the team because I’m guessing some guys might finish now.”
Meanwhile, the Welsh edition of the Daily Mirror's front page paid tribute to Gareth Bale's side despite their World Cup exit, after becoming the country's first national team to grace the World Cup in 64 years.
'Wales stars applaud fans as World Cup dream ends in defeat to England', the front page adds, with an image of Gareth Bale in his training tracksuit after being forced off with injury at half-time.