By MARK LORENZANA
After a somewhat inconsistent showing in the group stages, England on Sunday, Dec. 4, defeated Senegal, 3-0, in a blowout to barge into the World Cup Quarterfinals in Qatar.
Sure, the Three Lions — the oldest international soccer team in the world, having played its first international match against Scotland in 1872 — was dominant in its wins against Wales in the so-called Battle of Britain, and against Iran, essentially showing its offensive might by scoring a combined 9 points against those two opponents. But against the United States, England was slow, sluggish and certainly looked far removed from the offensive juggernaut it was against Wales and Iran.
Against Senegal on Sunday, however, the Three Lions was back to being the familiar well-oiled offensive machine as it showcased its attacking game predicated on speed. England midfielder Jude Bellingham, in particular, was instrumental in his team’s two early goals — even without scoring those goals himself — by setting up teammate Jordan Henderson for the Three Lions’ opening goal, and again dishing out a helper to Harry Kane for England’s second. Winger Bukayo Saka got in on the action by scoring a third goal for England, with Senegal unable to respond.
Meanwhile, Parisian soccer superstar Kylian Mbappé scored brace as he helped defending champions France dispatch of Poland, 3-1, in its own match on the same game day. With his two goals, Mbappé already has a total of nine career goals in the World Cup — tying Lionel Messi and overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona.
French soccer legend Olivier Giroud likewise scored for his team, driving home France’s opening goal, making him the French National Team’s all-time top scorer with 52 goals in total.
France will face England in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Dec. 10.