Sports, Football

Mature England ready for France battle: Kane


By AFP
Published : 05 Dec 2022 07:54 PM

Harry Kane hailed England's serene progress to the World Cup quarter-finals after scoring his first goal of the tournament in a 3-0 win over Senegal in the last 16.

The Three Lions have now won a knockout game in three consecutive major tournaments for the first time to set up a mouth-watering clash against reigning champions France in the last eight on Saturday.

"Knockout games are never easy. We showed great maturity through the tournament," Kane told ITV after moving to within one goal of Wayne Rooney's record of 53 for England.

"The mentality was top from the beginning and we took our chances when they came."

At 29, Kane is one of the senior players in Gareth Southgate's squad on a night when youngsters Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka again showed their promise.

Saka scored his third goal of the tournament, while Foden provided two assists and Bellingham was heavily involved in the opening two goals.

"We've got some super young players that we feel it's been right to give them their head and give them their opportunity," said Southgate.

"Jude, Phil, Bukayo, they are heading in a really good direction and these games are brilliant life experience for them. The progress they are making is phenomenal."

Senegal were crowned African champions earlier this year and impressed with victories over Qatar and Ecuador in the group stages to reach the knockout phase of the World Cup for just the second time.

But without the firepower of injured star forward Sadio Mane, Aliou Cisse's side had little answer after Jordan Henderson settled England’s nerves with the opening goal on 38 minutes.

“The team have made a very complicated game tonight look straight-forward,” added Southgate. “That wasn't the case, but because of the mentality, the attitude we've made it look that way.”

France will pose a much tougher test of England's hopes of winning a first major tournament since 1966.

Kylian Mbappe was in stunning form for Les Bleus as he scored twice in a 3-1 win over Poland on Sunday to move clear as the top goalscorer in the tournament with five.

“We’ll enjoy this one but then our focus turns to that, it's going to be a really tough game,” said Kane. “They are reigning champions but it's a good battle.” England could be without Raheem Sterling for that clash, though, after the Chelsea forward returned home to deal with a family matter.

The BBC reported that armed intruders broke into Sterling's home while his family were in the property.

"At the moment clearly the priority is for him to be with his family. We're going to support that and leave him to have as much time as he needs," said Southgate.

"At the moment it's a situation he needs time with his family to deal with and I don't want to put him under any pressure with that. Sometimes football isn't the most important thing and family should come first."