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In the aftermath of England’s sensational 3-0 Round of 16 victory over Senegal in the World Cup on Sunday evening, Three Lions’ starlet Bukayo Saka was quick to lavish teammate Harry Kane with praise.
30-year-old Kane had been waiting to break his duck in Qatar, though he ended his three-game dry spell with a thunderous strike just before the break at the Al Bayt Stadium to double England’s advantage over the African side.
Saka then added gloss to the scoreline with a deft finish in the second half, though the 21-year-old – who is now England’s joint-top scorer at the World Cup alongside Marcus Rashford with three goals – was quick to turn the spotlight on Harry Kane in the post-match media scrum.
Speaking to the BBC shortly after full-time, Saka said: “Harry Kane is like inevitable you know, he was always going to score goals, I was never worried about that.
“He’s been exceptional for us. He is like the glue of the team the way he links up attacks.
“I think he has a few assists already so it’s not like he isn’t doing anything for us. So, I knew he would get his goal and he showed unbelievable composure, because it took him so long to strike the ball, but he managed to do what Harry Kane does and put the ball in the back of the net.”
🗣️| Bukayo Saka: “Harry Kane is like inevitable you know, he was always going to score goals, I was never worried about that. He’s been exceptional for us. He is like the glue of the team the way he links up attacks.” [BBC] #ENG pic.twitter.com/Mp8AogA60B
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) December 4, 2022
Kane helps Southgate to prove a point
England overcame a sticky start in Al Khor to eventually ease their way past Senegal, vindicating Gareth Southgate’s team selection against the Lions of Teranga.
The divisive England boss had to absorb some criticism pre-match for starting workhorse midfielder Jordan Henderson ahead of Mason Mount and for leaving matchday three two-goal hero Marcus Rashford on the bench.
However, both Henderson and Bukayo Saka – who was preferred to Marcus Rashford – were among England’s man-of-the-match contenders against Senegal.
It was Kane, however, alongside the exuberant Jude Bellingham, who stole the show for England. For the deadlock-breaking goal, Kane released Bellingham down the left channel with a superb pass, before the Dortmund midfield put the ball on a plate for Henderson to convert in the middle.
Kane was the man on the spot to deliver a devastating finish past Edouard Mendy to make it 2-0, capping off a rapid-fire counter attack thanks to a clever pass from Phil Foden.
In total, Kane mustered four of England’s eight shots against Senegal, while only Phil Foden (three) played more key passes than the Three Lions’ skipper (one).
France await in the quarter finals
While the Three Lions’ performances in Qatar have been eye-catching so far, the list of opponents they’ve faced at the World Cup, Iran, USA, Wales and Senegal, were always likely to be tournament makeweights and England’s mettle should face its stiffest test by some distance against France in the quarter-finals.
England have talked a good game in the Middle East, though a statement win over current world champions France would help to galvanise hopes that a first title since 1966 could be in the offing.