Phil Foden is the player England fans want to see in the World Cup | Football

Phil Foden seized his chance against Wales (Picture: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

England gave fans a sign of relief on Tuesday evening following their 3-0 win against Wales. This put England at the top of the Group B table.

The Three Lions will next play Senegal on Sunday evening at 7pm where they face the African champions in the last 16.

Phil your boots, son

After all the talk that Phil Foden’s wonderful talent might go unused by his country at this tournament, the Manchester City star gave England what fans craved. In a game where Wales banked up and, confusingly, did not threaten to go for the win they needed, England had to have a wild card, an ace up their sleeve to find gaps in the opposing backline.

Foden, who had been restricted to just 19 minutes off the bench against Iran before Tuesday night, was not going to pass up his opportunity. It took a little while for his impact to show, preferring to play one-touch as England moved the ball quickly but without much attacking intent in the first half.

But after a surging run forward won the free-kick that allowed Marcus Rashford to put England ahead, Foden came into his own. The 22-year-old tapped in his first World Cup goal 98 seconds later and then demonstrated exactly why Gareth Southgate pitched him and not Jack Grealish into the ‘Battle of Britain’.

Foden wore down Wales defenders – if nothing else he knows his place is not guaranteed. One bad game and there are players, like Grealish, queuing up to take his spot. But on this form, Southgate cannot leave him out. Foden’s feet are magical, his football brain reminiscent of a mini-Glenn Hoddle or, dare I say it, a certain Lionel Messi.

Attack, attack, attack

Harry Kane during the game against Wales (Picture: Jean Catuffe/DPPI/Shutterstock)

Tuesday was a great day to be an England supporter. A comprehensive win over local rivals, a display of fine attacking prowess, a reasonable draw in round two against Senegal. But it was the second half, not the first, that everyone wanted to talk about. The first 45 minutes in Al Rayyan were instantly forgettable but let these players off the leash and they can destroy teams as the second period showed.

Led by Harry Kane, often from deep or out wide, England flew with Foden, Rashford and then Callum Wilson and Grealish, powered by Jude Bellingham again in midfield. It is no coincidence confidence is so high because England’s attacking stars are being allowed a little more freedom.

Don’t write off Senegal

Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly (left) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal against Ecuador (Picture: Raul Arboleda/AFP)

While beating Wales was enjoyable, it was a match England were expected to win. As was Iran. As was the USA. As, inevitably, will be Senegal. But it’s not that simple. Each of these teams have good players. Each is a strong unit. Look at the US, who qualified after taking five points. The quality is mainly high at a World Cup. Senegal may be missing Sadio Mane but his replacements, such as Boulaye Dia, are pretty decent too. Nothing should be taken for granted.

Fans have Mixed messages for Gareth

Gareth Southgate had been under pressure since the USA game (Picture: Shaun Botterill – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

They love him, they love him not… They booed his team off against the USA, they sang his name against Wales. Southgate’s relationship with England fans takes some working out but effectively the algorithm is that win = great, draw, or lose = awful. Of course nuance is needed, there is a middle ground. Love or loathe his tactics, this is a man who has taken England to a World Cup semi-final and European Championship final. Whatever he does in Doha, he should go down as an England legend.


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