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Home   /   How England’s talent obliterated the Welsh World Cup dream – Wales 0-3 England

The Welsh failure to deal with England’s attacking talent encapsulated the reason they had no chance of saving their last chance at the Qatar World Cup.

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The Dragons may have walked into the half-time dressing room at 0-0 with hopes of scraping their way out of the groups of their first World Cup in 64 years, but the ability of England’s Marcus Rashford amongst several other stars, was too much for them to handle in the second 45.

The difference in quality between the two sides was put on show when England scored their third and final goal. Wales were once again caught in transition as they have been on so many occasions at this tournament.

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The move started when Conor Roberts assumed a pass down to Trent Alexander-Arnold was heading for his marker, Rashford. With the Burnley defender now in front of his man and Rashford still onside, he quickly stopped in his tracks and raced back to re-assemble the Wales back line. By the time he’d realised his error though, Kalvin-Phillips had already launched and over the tops pass through to Rashford who was now bearing down on goal.

Rashford’s slight touch inside, gave Roberts a window to regain possession but once again, Manchester United’s academy prodigy was too quick for him. A further touch inside from the English winger, allowed him to face Roberts one on one, disguise his movement with a step-over and once again burst into space. All was left, was the shot through Danny Ward’s legs to award Rashford’s second goal of the evening.

England’s second goal came shortly after Rashford opened the scoring from a free kick whilst this time, Tottenham Hotspur’s Ben Davies was the culprit. With the ball down in left-back, Davies tried to skip past the on rushing Rashford but was quickly dispossessed as the ball fell to Harry Kane. Despite Kane’s lack of acceleration on the ball, Rodon allowed him time and space to dribble forward and square the ball across the Welsh penalty area.

The initial press from Wales to make up for the mistake from Davies, left Rodon alone in the box, unable to step across to Phil Foden, who dashed in at the far post to score his first ever World Cup goal.

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Roberts was caught too far forward again in the 72nd minute, allowing England to break away through Callum Wilson. Mepham and Rodon were back to stop the Newcastle’s forward in his tracks however, Rashford spotted the space Roberts was still sprinting back to recover. Wilson held up play with a stepover for a brief moment, then flicked through Rashford who was denied his first ever England hat-trick by Ward.

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Wales came into the match with a changed formation to their usual back three/five that manager Robert Page put out against USA and Iran. Against the Three Lions, a back four of Ben Davies, Joe Rodon, Chris Mepham and Neco Williams sat in front of the suspended Wayne Hennessey’s replacement, Ward. Whilst Conor Roberts replaced Williams in the 36th minute due to a potential concussion to the Liverpool youngster.

This new defence allowed more numbers concentrated in midfield, something the Welsh were crying out for in their previous 2-0 loss to Iran. With the return of Joe Allen to the starting 11, Wales’s compactness worked brilliantly in the first half. As appose to the midfield played in their previous two matches where Ethan Ampadu was the only option of cover for the defence, Allen offered a level of maturity to at times allow Harry Wilson and Aaron Ramsey to excel forward. Meanwhile, although Ampadu wasn’t horrific against the Iranian’s, he doesn’t have the attacking potential and awareness Allen has displayed throughout his career.

In the 50th minute, right before half-time, an unconventional pass from Chris Mepham found Allen in heaps of space outside the English box. On first glance, it seemed the pass would send Allen into the channel who’d attempt a cross. As John Stones looked to anticipate the movement, Allen cut the ball back the other way, catching the Manchester City man off guard and flung a shot towards the top-left corner. Unfortunately for Allen though, his shot skied into a sea of English fans following Pickford’s exaggerated dive across his goal. Despite a strong performance from the former Liverpool man, on his 74th cap for his country, Allen wasn’t enough.

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Ward stepped into Page’s starting eleven after Hennessey was sent off against Iran in the closing stages. Throughout the match, Ward faced 18 shots from the Three Lions and pulled off some fine stops to deny their lead being further extended. However, his mistakes for both of Rashford’s goals cost his nation.

Rashford and Luke Shaw stepped up to take a free kick just outside of Wales’s box on the left. Ward initially started in the centre of his goal, in pole position to reach any area the shot was struck at. As Rashford began his stride though, Ward took three steps to his right in attempt to cover his near post. This gave himself the mammoth task of reaching his now opposite right-top corner, which he failed to do as Rashford crashed the ball into the back of the net.

Initially, Rashford’s dead ball strike looked phenomenal. From Ward’s point of view though, it was a horrific mistake which gave England the momentum to go on and steal the game.

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The Welsh second half was also hampered by the forced substitution at half-time of Gareth Bale. Many of the Dragon’s fans were shocked to not see their nations best ever goal scorer and all-time appearance maker reappear from the dressing room, which was later addressed as a hamstring injury for the former Champions League winner. Throughout the World Cup, Bale had failed to live up to the heights he’s set for Wales in the last 10 years. Nevertheless, a Welsh side without their main man, is always going to be a weakened one.

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May 2024