Gareth Southgate picks out two players for their impact as England beat Senegal | Football
Gareth Southgate feels the midfield pair of Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson were vital in England’s win over Senegal on Sunday night, as they booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
The Three Lions won 3-0 over the African champions, but it wasn’t entirely straightforward after a very bright start from Senegal over the first half an hour.
Things were not looking great for England at that stage, but things turned around emphatically as Bellingham set up Henderson to score the opener on 38 minutes.
Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka scored the final two goals of the game, but it was Henderson and Bellingham that really caught Southgate’s eye, not just for the first goal, but their work in wrestling back control of midfield.
Asked by ITV for what pleased him most in the game, Southgate said: ‘I think the ruthlessness of our execution but the way the team worked off the ball and without the ball.
‘We were a bit sticky with the ball in the first 25-30 minutes, Senegal had a lot of energy, they pressed well, their shape was good.
‘Really our best opportunities came from winning the ball from them. I thought Jude and Hendo in particular were outstanding in that aspect of the game.
‘They’re both forward running, forward-thinking midfield players. Hendo doesn’t get many for us, but I think he’s been outstanding. He’s such a leader, he knits the team together, around the camp he’s brilliant. His performances have been top draw for us.’
Bellingham is continuing his emergence as one of the finest midfielders on the planet, and at just 19 years old, his development is incredible.
‘Again, we’ve got some super young players that we feel it’s right to give them their opportunity,’ said Southgate. ‘Jude, Phil [Foden], Bukayo tonight in particular.
‘They’re heading in a really good direction and these games are brilliant life experience for them.
‘I think the progress they’re making is phenomenal. I think the team has made a very complicated game tonight look straightforward. That wasn’t the case, but the mentality and attitude made it look that way.’
Southgate was also pleased for his captain, Harry Kane, who got off the mark in the World Cup in fine style just before half-time.
‘Any centre forward wants to be off the mark,’ said the manager. ‘For him it stops all the questions, I think he started to find more space in the second half and his link play was better as well. It was important for him and for us.’
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