This is not the England we’re used to seeing.
England set up a titanic World Cup quarter-final against holders France with a 3-0 win against Senegal in the last 16 on Monday morning (AEDT).
But the Three Lions will go into the quarter-final in red hot form, giving English fans to dare to dream the World Cup is “coming home”.
England is averaging three goals a game in Qatar – equal with Spain who were helped by a 7-0 win against Costa Rica in the opening game.
That’s 12 goals in four games for England. In comparison, Brazil has managed just two goals in three games.
And at the centre of England’s success is the team’s three youngest players.
Bukayo Saka (21), Phil Foden (22) and Jude Bellingham (19) have been the stars as England has beaten Iran, Wales and Senegal in Qatar.
Of the 12 goals scored in Qatar, those three have been directly involved in seven.
Saka has three goals, Foden a goal and two assists, while Bellingham has a goal and an assist.
Gareth Southgate’s side survived a nervous start at the Al Bayt Stadium before Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane put Senegal to the sword with a pair of clinical finishes before half-time.
Saka scored England’s third, but it was Bellingham’s prodigious work-rate and burgeoning quality in possession that allowed them to turn the tide.
Bellingham set up Henderson’s opener and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder was involved again when England captain Kane bagged his first goal in this World Cup.
Kane has now netted 11 times at major tournaments, overtaking Gary Lineker as England’s all-time top scorer in those competitions.
But at the tender age of 19, it is Bellingham who has emerged as England’s driving force.
He is the first teenager to assist in a World Cup knockout stage game since 1966, having already announced his arrival on the global stage by netting his first England goal in the 6-2 rout of Iran in their group opener.
Just two years after he was playing in the English second tier with Birmingham, the precocious Bellingham was totally unfazed against Senegal in the biggest game of his life.
“We made a very complicated game look straightforward. Because of the mentality, the attitude we’ve made it look that way,” Southgate said.
“We’ve got some super young players and we feel it’s been right to give them their head. Jude and Bukayo are heading in a really good direction.”
England will need another command performance from Bellingham if they are to extend their stay in Qatar beyond the last eight.
Eyeing a third successive semi-final appearance at major tournaments, England will return to the Al Khor desert on Saturday to take on the red-hot Kylian Mbappe and company after France brushed aside Poland 3-1 on Sunday.
Euro 2020 runners-up England have won only one of their last eight meetings with France, who pose a significant threat to their hopes of winning a first major title for 56 years.
“France are an outstanding team with a phenomenal tournament record and some outstanding individuals. That’s a game where we’ve got to find our highest possible level,” Southgate said.
Senegal boss Aliou Cisse added: “We have worked for years to be the top African side but we were playing a top five team in the world and you saw the difference.” After a rocky opening when they passed too slowly and looked anxious at the back, England hit their stride to show why Southgate has such confidence in them.
African champions Senegal squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead when Harry Maguire gave the ball away and Boulaye Dia’s volley deflected off John Stones into Ismaila Sarr’s path, only for the Watford forward to blaze over from close-range.
Preying on England’s nerves, Sarr harried Saka and Dia seized the loose ball, forcing a good save from Jordan Pickford with a fierce drive.
That proved the turning point as England snatched the lead against the run of play in the 38th minute.
Bellingham sprinted onto Harry Kane’s incisive pass into the Senegal area and clipped a precise cutback into the path of Liverpool midfielder Henderson, who guided his low strike past Edouard Mendy from 12 yards.
Henderson’s goal served as a jolt of adrenaline that coursed through England as they doubled their lead seconds before the interval.
Bellingham was the catalyst with his well-timed tackle and a crisp pass to Foden, whose perfectly-weighted lay-off allowed Kane to race clear for a clinical finish.
England strolled through the second half and, repaying Southgate’s faith, Saka put the result beyond doubt in the 57th minute.
Foden made a dynamic run down the left and Saka reached his cross to flick a clever effort over Mendy from close-range.