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England verdict: Forget Battle of Britain, this was a pair of squabbling brothers as Three Lions bullied Wales all night

WE’D called it the Battle of Britain – but, ultimately, it was not much of a battle.

More like a fight between two squabbling brothers with the older one always certain to win.

England booked their place in the last 16 of the World Cup with a 3-0 win over Wales
Manchester United hitman Marcus Rashford was the star of the show
Wales, in truth, were woeful

Yet here at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, 16 miles west of the centre of Doha, Gareth Southgate will have loved the way his England team bullied the Welsh in the second half.

Thanks to our not-so-noisy neighbours, Southgate’s team were allowed to grow into the tournament.

All the boxes were ticked with one exception. Incredibly, six players have scored here in Qatar but captain Harry Kane is still not one of them.

Equally, Southgate was more concerned about giving his striker a rest than scoring a goal.

Because it was so easy, the Three Lions boss was afforded the luxury of replacing Kane, Declan Rice and Kyle Walker before the hour with one eye on Sunday’s game against Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium. That one should be a proper scrap.

Let’s hope England do much better at the same venue where they struggled against the United States.

This is not a great Wales team, we should remember that. Pretty bad, to be honest.

The 6-2 win over Iran, followed by the goalless draw with the States, was also a tap on the should not get too carried away as the World Cup can bite you on the backside.


But here was a good, professional performance which really gives Southgate something to build on.

Marcus Rashford, in his first start since a friendly against Romania in June 2021, shrugged off an awful first half to blitz the Welsh.

Phil Foden, the player the entire country was waiting for, did okay in the first half and then had a sizzling impact after swapping flanks in the second half.

He won the free-kick for Rashford, scoring the second and being an all-around nuisance.

The defence was once again solid – two clean sheets in a group stage is not bad.

And Walker, preferred to Kieran Trippier, was also given a start in his first minutes on a pitch since Manchester City battered Manchester United 6-3 on October 2.

Rice was decent and Jude Bellingham had more licence to roam forward with Jordan Henderson on the pitch.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kalvin Phillips would also have been delighted to both get over half an hour in their first minutes of the tournament.

The only downside was that, once again, Kane did not score. He played well in the first game and did well to set up Foden for the second goal.

Equally, a player who genuinely believed he could win the Golden Boot again has yet to set the tournament on fire.

To be fair, though, Wales were poor. Maybe, unsurprisingly, given that the squad has aged, they were much better at Euro2016 in Lens when they led at half-time through a goal from Gareth Bale although still lost 2-1.

So, it is Senegal next. We should not take the world rankings too seriously – just look at Belgium in second place. But Southgate genuinely places some importance on them.

The United States are 16th, Wales 19th and Iran 20.

Weirdly, Senegal are around that section in 18th so it gives you a vague idea of their strengths.

As we saw with Iceland, being complacent can turn out very badly.

No chance with Southgate, though. And England, it seems, are now properly off and running in Qatar.

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