Three Takeaways From England-Senegal First Half Round of 16 Matchup


The Three Lions have roared onto the stage to start the round of 16.

Two late first-half goals from Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane have seen England take a 2-0 lead over Senegal at halftime of their knockout stage matchup on Sunday.

England started out particularly slow and unable to create quality chances in its attacking third, but that all changed thanks to two brilliant moments from 19-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham in open space to get his nation on top.

Here are three takeaways from the England-Senegal first half:

England’s turnovers

Chances have been rare for either side, but Senegal had some moments to get on the board first. Its chances didn’t come from building up play with the ball, however. Rather, it emerged from forcing England into making errant passes during its build-up play from its own defensive third.

One came from a Harry Maguire mistake when he tried to thread a ball to the left flank, but Senegal got to it first and both Boulaye Dia and Ismaila Sarr had chances to score on a dangerous cross. Unfortunately, neither got a clean look on the ball and missed the opportunity.

Then in the 31st minute, a giveaway by Bukayo Saka, that might’ve gone off Sarr’s hands, nearly became a goal for Dia until his left-footed shot was kept out by Jordan Pickford.

Clinical finishes

Whereas Senegal failed to be clinical with its opening chances, England flipped the switch. England’s first shot on target came when Henderson opened the scoring in the 38th minute.

Bellingham made a threatening run down the left-hand flank and rolled a cut-back cross with his weak foot to an open Henderson, who also finished with his weak left foot past Edouard Mendy for England’s first goal on its first shot on target.

Then just past the three minutes of added time, Bellingham broke free on a counter attack, fed Phil Foden the ball on the left flank and Foden played it back to an open Kane, whose thumping finish made it two goals on two shots on target.

Jude Bellingham stars yet again

You’d never believe Bellingham is 19 years old when watching him play. The Birmingham City youth product, currently shining with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, is the next big thing in football.

He still has a long way to go to polish his overall game, but you won’t find many box-to-box midfielders with his frame, speed and skillset. Just in the first half alone, Bellingham completed 23-of-24 passes, won six ground duels and two aerial duels, made three tackles and logged an assist on one big chance created.

If England is to go far in this World Cup, expect Bellingham to continue to play a paramount role in the center of the pitch for the Three Lions.

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