England have marched into the last 16 of the World Cup as Group B winners after Marcus Rashford’s double and a Phil Foden strike justified their first starts of the tournament in a 3-0 hammering of an outclassed Wales.
Wales, who needed an unlikely four-goal victory in a fixture they had not won since 1984 to reach the knockout rounds, defended deeply on Tuesday and frustrated England in a subdued first half at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
But they caved in after the break as Gareth Southgate’s side, who would face Senegal in the next round, took their goals tally in the group to nine.
England had the game wrapped up just after halftime, with Rashford scoring from a free kick in the 50th and Foden adding another in the 51st.
Rashford got his second after a weaving run in the box in the 68th.
Criticised for his performance in the defeat against Iran, Wales captain Gareth Bale was anonymous again and the former Real Madrid star, possibly injured, was substituted at half-time.
Yet within six minutes of the restart, Bale’s absence was rendered irrelevant by England’s quick-fire barrage.
Southgate had said he was concerned about Foden feeling under pressure to deliver after the calls for him to be selected, but he didn’t need to worry after the precocious Manchester City playmaker.
Foden was the catalyst for England’s opener as he drove forward to win a 50th-minute south free-kick that Rashford brilliantly curled into the far corner of Ward’s goal from 25 yards.
England hasn’t won a major trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup when the Three Lions defeated Germany 4-2 in the final.