A rejuvenated Marcus Rashford haunted Wales to lead England to the last 16 of the World Cup

Wales 0-3 England: Rashford scores twice as Gareth Southgate's side take top spot in Group B and set up a clash with Senegal on Sunday

From the third oldest international match, and the kind of wins we see so often, to something completely new. That didn't apply to Marcus Rashford's goal though, as it was simply a welcome return to form which Gareth Southgate greeted with a jubilant hug.

In contrast, England will meet Senegal for the first time, having finished top of their group thanks to an easy 3-0 win over Wales.

Aliou Cisse's formidable team will present an entirely different kind of challenge – or, if you want to be tough, a real challenge given how stretched the Welsh are – and it sharpens the question of what kind of team Southgate will put out. England are clearly still finding themselves at this World Cup, even as they scored easily against Robert Page's side.

There are nearly two England in a game here, but not quite in sync as Southgate would like.

That might be forgivable in that situation. This was a controversially held World Cup game in Qatar, with a place in the last 16 at stake, and it truly felt like a comfortable friendly on regional courts. That deepened even more when, inexplicably, Chesney Hawkes walked out at halftime to sing The One and Only.

You'll wonder how FIFA President Gianni Infantino felt today after that. Many other people in the stands were confused.

At the very least, you can't take this World Cup qualifier away from Wales even if it was never better than Gareth Bale's late penalty against the US.

There were early indications they might pull off a great defensive line against England, just like Scotland did at Euro 2020, only for Page's defense to falter under the quality that pressed them – and, admittedly, Phil Foden just dropped.

It could at least be argued that the playmaker offered the breakthrough Southgate needed, even if it wasn't quite what it seemed.

And while Foden scored in a generally good performance, the main story of the man was Rashford.

He showed players who everyone thought he should be, and at the right time. It's almost absurd to think the debate will now rage over whether he should start against Senegal, as he is now the World Cup's top scorer with three goals alongside Kylian Mbappe, Cody Gakpo and Enner Valencia. It made him the first Manchester United player to score three goals for England at the World Cup since Sir Bobby Charlton in 1966.

Some would take that as a sign, but Rashford's goal was more of a show of form.

The first was a breakthrough in itself, considering it was the first goal from a direct free kick at this World Cup. And that's just two days after Kieran Trippier, left the team here, bemoaning how light the ball was. You can't have a World Cup without stories like that. You probably can't have an England starting XI without Rashford now.

He must have caught the ball beautifully, as it flew into the roof of the net. It's perfect.

The second, and the third in England, then capitalizes on Welsh imperfections and is just as good to watch in a different way. Rashford pushed through, swerving this way and that, before passing poor Danny Ward.

The look on Rashford's face showed a player really enjoying his football again – and letting England express themselves.

Given everything that's happened since, it's easy to forget now that Rashford was seen as a potentially bigger talent than Harry Kane when he first arrived, and was one of England's few bright spots at Euro 2016.

Now, one surprise is that he has scored three goals and Kane is still yet to score. It would have frustrated the England captain but he was still focused enough on supplying a beautiful ball for Foden to finally get his goal.

It ensured England scored nine goals in this group stage, and while there is some feeling left, they have not clicked or shown what they are capable of. That might be a problem, or maybe a strength, because they grew up in the World Cup like Rashford.

Southgate must not look back too much, or fight in the last game. He now faces a new opponent, one that might suit the renewed Rashford. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS. 

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