Manchester City’s England stars were instrumental as the Three Lions progressed to the knock-out stage of the World Cup in Qatar. Phil Foden was on target for his third England goal, while Kalvin Phillips’ second-half appearance set up the third.
Manager Gareth Southgate came under fire for failing to play Foden in the draw against the United States, with the England boss claiming he would have had to play the City man in an unfamiliar position. However, Southgate started the blues midfielder, playing Foden on the right wing.
Foden proved to be a continual threat for the Lions, firing a first-half shot wide and was involved in many of the attacks that England produced.
After a goalless first 45 minutes, the Stockport Iniesta took the game to the Welsh. His driving run forward was abruptly halted just outside the penalty area. United striker Marcus Rashford stepped up and rifled the free kick into the top corner.
Two minutes later, Foden made his mark on the World Cup as he converted Harry Kane’s cross. Rashford dispossessed the Welsh defence and Kane drove forward and slipped a teasing ball across the six-yard box. Foden upped a gear to slide the ball home and send England 2-0 up.
City fans will have been delighted to see Kalvin Phillips replace Declan Rice in the 58th minute and ten minutes later, made his own contribution t England’s victory. His ball over the top of the Welsh defence set Rashford clear, and the United man raced into the penalty area to make it 3-0.
Kyle Walker also started the match as posed another attacking threat, while John Stones missed a glorious chance to make it 4-0, firing over when he looked for all the world that he would score.
The victory means England finish top of their group and face Senegal on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, City could be seeing a couple of key players back early. Julian Alvarez’ Argentina face a crunch match against Poland, where anything less than victory could see them eliminated.
Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne could also be on their way home after the group stage. Gundo’s Germany sit bottom of their group and need to beat Costa Rica and hope Japan lose to Spain to progress. Aymeric Laporte and Rodri will feature in the last 16 if their Spanish side avoid defeat to the Japanese. Meanwhile, de Bruyne’s Belgium must beat Croatia to ensure at least one more match in Qatar. A draw or defeat will see the City kingpin and his Belgian side make an early exit.
Ederson’s Brazil have already made the last 16 after beating Manuel Akanji’s Switzerland. Akanji will join his teammate in the knockout stage if his Swiss side avoid defeat to Serbia. Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves will spend another few days in Qatar after winning their first two matches and will win the group by voiding defeat to South Korea.
Finally, Nathan Ake’s Netherlands will face the USA in the last 16 after topping their group. His side inflicted a third straight defeat on host nation Qatar to finish ahead of Senegal in group A.