Jude Bellingham started running and kept going. From the edge of his six-yard box, he soon started running towards the midfield, with the ball at his feet, the Senegalese players following him, and the opportunity in front of him.
The passage of play that led to the second goal, Harry Kane Bellingham’s release from Phil Foden, was fantastic and the same could be said of the first and third goals. This side of England can play. Maybe it’s France that should be worried.
He has Kylian Mbappe, of course. He will stop for a bit on Saturday. But that’s England. Gareth Southgate’s side have managed 12 goals in the game – three more than any other side. So much for the manager bringing them back.
Criticism of Southgate’s approach has been legitimate at times during his tenure. Even at the last World Cup, when England reached the last four, they worked rather than enjoyed, relying on scraps when it came to picking opponents.
Four years on, however, the performance was the latest reminder of how much has happened – and a boost to the team spirit and unity they once had.
England have had eight goalscorers in four games so far in the tournament. Ten of their goals have come in open play, including all three in the recent win over Senegal.
He has already scored more than he did in the run-up to last summer’s Euros. Big tests are coming, of course, but the magnitude of their threat is reason for hope. Even their assists have come from eight players.
At the center of it all is a youngster, who, in the words of Roy Keane, “plays like he’s played 100 times for England.” Bellingham, Gary Neville added, “seems like he can do anything.”
He is proving to be an asset to England at this World Cup – Bellingham provided Jordan Henderson’s slow opener and the restart that led to Kane’s second – but the team’s real strength is together.
They look like the right team and that’s more than can be said for the other big sides at this World Cup.
Germany and Belgium fell at the first crisis looking like people’s groups. Argentina and France are strong, but they rely on their stars. The same goes for Brazil, who have scored just once in two games since Neymar’s injury.
There will be another relief.
England’s draw with the USA was goalless but undefeated. Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal and France have all lost small sides, their weaknesses exposed.
England, in contrast, are undefeated, the run behind them and their belief increasing.
Even their perceived weaknesses look suspiciously like strengths.
Senegal gave Harry Maguire a tough time in the opening half hour of the match, but he came out of it having played a vital role in a third consecutive clean sheet.
Southgate has proven to resist calls to drop him – as he has with every other call in the game. Along with John Stones, Maguire created a barrier in front of Jordan Pickford’s goal and the numbers prove it.
England have only had 6 shots on target in four games so far. A 23rd minute free kick by Ismaila Sarr was the first conceded from inside their six yard box.
The opposition have been kept at bay and perhaps this should come as no surprise as England have lost just one of the last 17 games that Maguire and Stones have started. Even the only loss, in the Euro 2020 final, was decided on penalties.
Their chemistry is very important and elsewhere it is worth knowing better and fresher. Luke Shaw, like Maguire and Stones, continues to excel in an England shirt. Pickford and Kieran Trippier too.
Bellingham has been changing the game between games, but it helps to rotate with the situation. Declan Rice and Henderson have played together for many years. Harry Kane knows what to expect from Bukayo Saka, Foden and the rest.
Then there is the man in the fountain. Southgate’s popularity has waned ahead of this World Cup. Many English supporters were calling for his title as recently as a few months ago.
But his racing record is unquestionable. This was their eighth game and they have not conceded once in 90 minutes. If any side were to reach the last and final in the last World Cup and the Euros, they could be considered as the main contenders.
England’s actions in Qatar only confirm this. Mbappe will make France the favorite at the Al Bayt Stadium. They have a recent game win behind them as well. But England should not be underestimated. Perhaps they should be feared.