England has thundered into the knockout stages of the World Cup with a powerhouse demolition job on Wales as the so-called Battle of Britain turned into a bloodbath.
England sent a message to the rest of the world in a second half blitz at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Wednesday morning with a 3-0 win — with all three goals coming in the second half.
England progressed to a Round of 16 match with Senegal (the No. 2 team in Group A), while Wales exits with one of the ugliest campaigns the tournament has seen in recent years.
The USA has also moved through to the second round after a 1-0 win over Iran.
The USA will play the Netherlands (the No. 1 team from Group A) in the first match of the knockout stage.
Earlier, Qatar completed a miserable World Cup campaign with a 2-0 defeat against the Netherlands to bow out of their own tournament with the worst ever performance by a host nation.
Senegal qualified for the knockout stages after beating Ecuador 2-1 and eliminating their opponents.
You can see the full list of results and the full group standings here.
8am – England’s ‘humiliating’ World Cup rampage
Marcus Rashford has terrorised the Welsh defence in a second half masterclass that has put his opposition to the sword.
England put on three second half goals and they could have easily had more as Wales players began to drop their heads.
England banged in two goals in the opening six minutes of the second half and substituted captain Gareth Bale could only watch on in horror as it got progressively worse as the minutes ticked down towards the end of Wales’ campaign.
Marcus Rashford first scored with a classy free kick from outside the box before Phil Foden made it 2-0.
Football guru Gary Lineker could see the floodgates beginning to open.
He posted on Twitter: “Well, that escalated quickly”.
BBC football reporter Dayfdd Pritchard said: “This is getting humiliating for Wales”.
Foden’s goal came off the back of a centimetre-perfect low pass from Harry Kane that put the ball exactly where Foden’s feet needed it to be.
Rashford’s second goal in the 69th minute was a work of art as he danced his way into the penalty area while putting Welsh defenders on rollerskates before tapping it in.
Rashford is suddenly emerging as a serious threat to Kylian Mbappe in the race for the golden boot.
8am – USA headed to Round of 16 thanks to Pulisic magic
The USA are headed through to the World Cup Round of 16 after an enthralling 1-0 victory over Iran in their final group stage match.
Chelsea superstar Christian Pulisic scored the decisive goal in the 38th minute after converting a beautiful headed cross from Sergiño Dest.
Pulisic was branded the “the LeBron James of soccer” after the courageous goal, in which he put his body on the line for the glory of his nation.
The speedster collided heavily with Iran’s goalkeeper after converting his opportunity and was seen limping for a long period afterwards.
The second half was a tight affair as Iran, who only needed a draw to advance to the next stage, threw everything at USA’s defence.
However the Americans held firm as Iran grew in confidence.
A handball appeal within the box with 10 minutes remaining was about as close as Iran ever came to tying it up.
Then with just one minute remaining in injury time there was high drama after an Iran player was potentially held back in the box by a defender from USA.
However the referee determined there was not enough contact to award a crucial penalty to Iran.
USA will play Netherlands in the Round of 16 after the Dutch secured top spot in Group A with a 2-0 win over Qatar.
6.55am – USA’s opener comes at a cost
The USA have struck first in their must-win clash against Iran, with star forward Christian Pulisic once again the man to save the day.
The Chelsea forward converted in the 38th minute off some classy lead-up play from Weston McKennie and Sergiño Dest.
Dest’s headed cross landed right in front of Iran’s goal, with Pulisic only needing to knock it in from close range.
The entire USA celebrated as only they can, branding Pulisic “the LeBron James of soccer”.
However the opening goal came at a cost for USA, with Pulisic colliding heavily with Iran’s goalkeeper and looking worse for wear minutes after the goal.
The goal had US soccer fans once again lauding their star for “putting his balls on the line”.
4.30am — Qatar’s $360 billion disaster laid bare
Qatar completed a miserable World Cup campaign with a 2-0 defeat against the Netherlands to bow out of their own tournament with the worst ever performance by a host nation.
The Gulf state has spent a reported $360 billion (AUD) on this World Cup, while its team are the reigning continental champions after winning the Asian Cup in 2019.
But the decision to isolate the squad for months in a training camp in the run-up to the tournament, rather than have them play competitive games, backfired badly on coach Felix Sanchez and his side.
Qatar were the first team to be eliminated from the competition when they lost 3-1 to Senegal in their second match, following a 2-0 defeat to Ecuador in the tournament’s opening game.
Wednesday’s result means they go out without a point and just one goal scored. They are only the second World Cup host nation to fail to make it out of the group stage, following South Africa in 2010.
Yet South Africa took four points from three group games, drawing with Mexico and beating France but only failing to qualify for the last 16 on goal difference.
Every other host nation over the 22 World Cups going back to the first tournament in 1930 has reached the next phase, although in 2002 co-hosts Japan lost in the last 16, as did the United States in 1994.
The host nation has won the World Cup six times, most recently France in 1998, and been the runner-up twice.
Sanchez said his team was never targeting a place in the knockout phase.
“We’re a country with 6000 football licences so this was a likely situation,” said Sanchez when asked if he ever thought Qatar would get through the group.
“We never thought at any time to set a target of reaching the last 16 or the quarter-finals.
“We just wanted to come here and see what we could do. We managed to play two good games against Senegal and the Netherlands. The first game (against Ecuador) we weren’t at our usual level and we know that.”
4am: Senegal through after three minutes of madness
Kalidou Koulibaly sent Senegal into the World Cup knockouts for just the second time in their history with the winner in a dramatic 2-1 win over Ecuador.
The Netherlands’ dominant victory over Qatar meant only a win would see Senegal through to the knockouts from Group A, while Ecuador would have progressed with a draw.
Senegal opened the scoring through Ismaila Sarr’s penalty late in the first half, but despite managing to keep Ecuador captain Enner Valencia quiet throughout, Brighton’s Moises Caicedo levelled in the 67th minute before Koulibaly sent his team through and Ecuador home.
Senegal manager Aliou Cisse promised before the game his experienced side “would not overthink” the occasion and it was the Africans who opened the game furiously, with Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye lashing the ball just wide of an open goal after only three minutes.
Less than a minute later, Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez needed to bail out his side’s high backline, sliding in to stifle a counter well outside his box.
On the 10 minute mark, Senegal’s Boulaye Dia found himself one-on-one with Galindez, but he cut the ball just wide of the post.
Seemingly sparked into life by Senegal’s fierce opening, Ecuador pushed forward and won a free-kick 30 metres from goal, with the South Americans taking the opportunity for a rare breather before Valencia slammed the ball into the wall.
After the furious opening exchanges, both sides began to settle and the first half looked set to end goalless before Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie clattered into Sarr, giving referee Clement Turpin no choice but to point to the spot.
Sarr stepped up and coolly dispatched a fine spot-kick past Galindez, maintaining eye contact with the keeper as the ball went in.
Ecuador started the second half fresher and more determined, perhaps reassured that the Netherlands’ dominance over Qatar meant they only needed a draw to go through.
From a free-kick, defender Felix Torres rose high to head the ball on to Caicedo, who was waiting at the far post and slammed the ball home.
Senegal struck back immediately and in almost identical fashion, with Koulibaly lurking unmarked at the far post following a free-kick which was deflected into his path by Hincapie.
Coming into the match on a yellow card, Gueye picked up a second-half booking and will miss Senegal’s last-16 game against the winners of Group B.
4am — Gakpo scores for third game in a row
Cody Gakpo scored again as the Netherlands booked their place in the World Cup last 16 as group winners with a straightforward 2-0 victory over hosts Qatar.
The Netherlands, needing just a point to be sure of progressing, put one foot in the next round inside the first half-hour as Gakpo scored in a third straight group game.
Frenkie de Jong added another in the 49th minute as the Dutch cruised through in a flat atmosphere at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Qatar, already eliminated before kick-off, suffered the ignominy of becoming the first home team in World Cup history to finish the group stage without a point.
Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side ended with seven points at the top of Group A, while Senegal joined them in the knockout phase as runners-up after beating Ecuador 2-1.
The Oranje will next take on the second-placed team from Group B for a quarter-final spot at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
England currently top that section and face Wales later on Tuesday, while the United States play Iran. All four teams are still in the hunt for qualification.
“We did what we needed to do,” said Netherlands coach Van Gaal. “We’re group winners and we’ll most likely be playing a number two team, probably USA or Iran, and they’re playing tonight and we can watch them tonight.”
The Dutch have made a solid start as they look to put the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia firmly behind them.
Qatar signed off from their long-awaited home World Cup with a whimper, securing their place in the record books as the worst ever hosts on the pitch.
“I think that we’ve played against a great team, probably one of the big favourites to go very far in this competition,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez.
“It was a very tough game for us but I believe the team managed to compete at a very high level for many minutes.”
Van Gaal was able to give Memphis Depay his first start of the tournament as the Barcelona star continued his return to full fitness after a hamstring injury.
It did not take the Dutch long to slice through the Qatar defence, although Daley Blind could only scuff a fourth-minute attempt straight at goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham.
The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute as Davy Klaassen played in Gakpo after a neat move also involving Depay.
The PSV Eindhoven winger drove forward and drilled a low strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to score his third goal of the tournament.
The three-time World Cup runners-up took advantage of shoddy Qatar defending to double their advantage four minutes after the break.
Depay was denied from close range by Barsham but De Jong reacted quicker than a ponderous Pedro Miguel to poke the ball home from barely a yard out.
Substitute Steven Berghuis thought he had added a third midway through the second half, only for his goal to be ruled out after a VAR check for a handball by Gakpo in the build-up.
There was brief excitement for the remaining home supporters late on when Mohammed Muntari prodded the ball into the net, but the whistle had long since gone for a foul on Virgil van Dijk.
The Netherlands almost piled more misery onto Qatar in stoppage time when Berghuis’ excellent curling strike from range hit the crossbar.