England and Senegal kicked off a decisive match to secure a spot at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter-finals on Sunday evening.
Hosted at the Al Bayt Stadium north of Doha, the knockout stage match is a major one for both teams, though even more so for Senegal, which has only made it to the quarter-finals once in its history.
While the first 20 minutes offered mediocrity with sporadic pressing on both ends, Senegal made a break in the 22nd minute that saw the Africans just inches away from securing their first goal.
After a narrow one, England regroup, passing in and around midfield to reboot and focus. The pace of the game slows down though it’s not long before Senegal captures possession and has its way with England, pinging the ball from one player to another.
Moments later, Senegal catches England off guard and makes yet another break for it with Dia taking a strike at Pickford who blocks it just in time. The ball bounces back into the danger zone before finally being cleared – another close one for England.
England looks shaken and respond with more passing up and down the pitch. Sarr intercepts the ball from Walker who is clearly offended and takes down the Senegalese to give away a free kick.
However, England’s slower-paced strategy takes off in the 27th minute when Bellingham finds the feet of Henderson who slides the ball into the Senegalese net. Kane has his own attempt in the 41st minute but his shot lifts a bit too much and floats over the crossbar.
Two minutes are added to extra time and Senegal looks like it’s about to equalise. Drama unfolds and the ball is suddenly stolen by England who take it to the opposing end where Harry Kane adds another goal to the scoreboard.
With the second half kicking off, a desperate Senegalese team switches up the lineup with three substitutions though there is little impact made in the first moments.
Bukayo Saka sends the crowds cheering in the 57th minute after finishing a cross beautifully into the back of the net. Saka and Grealish are subbed off to make space for Rashford and Grealish as it appears the Three Lions are hungry for more goals.
In the 70th minute, Senegal’s Sarr crosses into the box though the ball lands on top of the net. So far, the three goals have appeared to dampen the spirits of the Africans.
With the timer nearing 90 minutes, little action was seen on the pitch, with England comfortably sitting in the victory seat while Senegal struggled to secure a goal despite a free kick near the penalty box and two last-minute corners. However, the 65,985 fans in attendance appeared to enjoy the show.