Marcus Rashford has revealed the emotional reasoning behind the celebration for his first goal in England’s 3-0 victory over Wales.
It was a memorable night for the Manchester United forward who scored twice to ensure England took top spot in Group B and advance to the last-16.
After scoring his first goal, Rashford dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky in what was a poignant celebration for the man-of-the-match’s friend, Garfield Hayward, who died two days before the game after a long battle with cancer.
After celebrating with his team-mates he dropped to his knees and pointed towards the sky
Marcus Rashford posted a selfie to his Instagram account following his heroics with the caption: ‘Special moments’
Rashford kisses his partner Lucia Loi as England’s players greeter their families following the match
Rashford sits with his girlfriend Ms Loi and gives a thumbs up after his brace helped England reach the last 16
Rashford celebrates after scoring his second and England’s third in their win over Wales
England manager Gareth Southgate embraces Rashford as the pair leave the pitch at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Rashford dedicated the goal to a friend who has recently died after a long battle with cancer
It was an emotional night for the forward, whose friend died two days before the game after a long battle with cancer
Rashford celebrates with a clenched fist after scoring his side’s third goal during the World Cup match against Wales – also his third of the tournament
During his post-match interview, he said: ‘Unfortunately I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago.
‘He’s had quite a long battle with cancer, so I’m pleased I managed to score for him.
‘He’s always been a big supporter of mine. He was just a great person and I’m pleased he came into my life, really.’
Rashford was brought into the starting eleven for the first time in Qatar and has given Gareth Southgate a selection headache going into their last-16 clash with Senegal on Sunday.
‘It’s been a challenge for him,’ said the England manager, who was unaware that Rashford’s friend had died in the build-up to the game.
‘I went and saw him in the summer, had a long chat with him and he had some clear ideas on things that he felt he needed to think about and to do.
It was a big night for Rashford who also scored England’s third goal as they sealed qualification
Marcus Rashford scored a stunning free-kick to open the scoring in a 3-0 victory for England
Rashford and England midfielder Jordan Henderson celebrate together after England’s third goal
After scoring his first goal, Rashford dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky in what was a poignant celebration
The moment Rashford cut inside onto his left foot and struck a low shot through the legs of Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward
‘He could have had a hat-trick, really, with the chance in the first half and then the one at the near post towards the end.
‘But great for him and because it’s great for him it’s great for us.’
After a quiet opening half, England stepped up a gear in the second with Rashford scoring a stunning free-kick to give the Three Lions the lead.
Man City star Phil Foden doubled the lead before Rashford added a third for the Three Lions – having also scored as a substitute in the 6-2 victory over Iran.
Rashford took to Twitter after the game to post his second goal celebration, as he jumped for joy, surrounded by his England teammates, alongside the captain: ‘Last 16 here we come.’
Rashford celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s third goal during the match against Wales
Rashford has given Gareth Southgate a selection headache after only bringing in the Man United star for the Wales game after he started on the bench in the prior two games
Rashford is congratulated by England coach Chris Powell after being substituted during the game
The Manchester United forward poses with the Budweiser Player of the Match following his brace
The 25-year-old after the game told the BBC: ‘It’s obviously a great feeling. We were disappointed as a team after the last game, we could have played a lot better.
‘The only way to bounce back is to play better in your next game.
‘Moments like this, this is what I play football for. I am really happy today to be going into the next round of the tournament, because I have massive ambition for this team and I think we can go a lot further.’
Speaking of his free-kick goal which opened the scoring and eventually sparked England’s victory, Rashford said: ‘I fancied one in the first half, but the one in the second was in a better position.
‘Then it’s being calm and executing what you do in training.’
After the game the Three Lions stars – who have a day off in Qatar today – mingled with family and friend sin the stands.
Beaming model Sasha Attwood reunited with boyfriend Jack Grealish while captain Harry Kane – who is yet to score at this tournament – and his wife Katie were spotted sharing a sweet catch up pitch side, and Luke Shaw had a kiss planted on him by his long-term partner Anouska Santos.
Mason Mount was also delighted to get up to the stands after the match to greet his family, while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and his partner Megan Davison got together for a catch up.
After the game Marcus celebrated his two goals by having a kiss with his fiancée Lucia Loi while Kalvin Phillips had a warm embrace with girlfriend Ashleigh Behan among the crowds.
Another WAG present at the match was Aaron Ramsdale’s fiancée Georgina Irwin who also gave her partner a sweet smooch following the clash.
Dragonslayers: England easily blow Wales away 3-0 with two goals from Rashford and a Phil Foden tap in to progress to second round clash with Senegal on Sunday… but it’s a World Cup exit for sad Welsh
By RORY TINGLE and SHEKHAR BHATIA and NICK PISA FOR MAILONLINE
England have seen off Wales in tonight’s ‘Battle of Britain’ with a thumping 3-0 win – prompting jubilation for Three Lions fans as their team prepare to face Senegal in the last 16 – while the Welsh are heading home.
Drinks were thrown in the air in fan parks across the nation tonight, with chants of ‘It’s coming home’ erupting after the goals went in.
England supporters in Qatar greeted Marcus Rashford’s first goal by singing ‘You’re going home in the morning’ just as Foden stabbed home the second. Rashford then struck again on the 68th minute to score England’s 100th goal at the World Cup finals.
England fans celebrate their side’s second goal of the game at Box Park in Croydon – a famously rowdy spot for watching Three Lions games
Beer flies into the air at Box Park in Croydon as England fans celebrate a goal against their Welsh rivals
Fans in Tenerife – where thousands of Wales fans had also gathered – celebrate as England go ahead
After the game, the striker revealed the tragic reason why he dropped to his knees after his first goal – a friend has died from cancer. ‘He had quite a long battle with cancer, I’m pleased I scored for him, he was a big supporter and good friend of mine,’ Rashford said. ‘He was someone who came into my life.’
The Battle of the Lions: England v Senegal
There will be more than just pride at stake when England take on Senegal in the Battle of the Lions this Sunday. The Three Lions’ reward for topping Group B following victory over Wales last night will be a last-16 knock-out tie with Group A runners-up Senegal, known as the Lions of Teranga.
The West African side – ranked 18 in the world, one position above Wales – will start the match as underdogs against Gareth Southgate’s men, but they are not without pedigree. It was 20 years ago that Senegal staged one of the greatest upsets in footballing history, as the unfancied World Cup debutants defeated then-reigning champions France in the opening match of the 2002 tournament.
They made it to the quarter-finals with a team of relative unknowns, such as El Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao and Papa Bouba Diop, all of whom would soon find themselves playing in the Premier League. Their captain at that tournament, defender Aliou Cisse, now manages the national team.
Away from football, one of Senegal’s most famous exports is the singer and rapper Akon. The 49-year-old burst onto the global pop scene in the mid-2000s with ‘Lonely’ – which sampled Bobby Vinton’s ‘Mr Lonely’ – and later enjoyed chart success with singles including ‘Smack That’ and ‘Locked Up’.
French is listed as Senegal’s official language, though the most widely spoken is Wolof. Its greatest export is gold, and its capital, Dakar, is the end point for the annual desert rally. England will be hoping the Lions of Teranga – without talisman striker Sadio Mane through injury – reach the conclusion of their World Cup journey this Sunday. (By Ryan Hooper).
The second half had already started badly for Wales after their talisman Gareth Bale went off injured. England have now won Group B with the USA in second place after a 1-0 win against Iran.
Hordes of fans have made the trip to Qatar, with millions more watching back home.
There was a raucous atmosphere in the ground, with England fans singing the national anthem during a break in play only for it to be booed by Wales supporters.
At another point, the Welsh fans began taunting England by singing a song to the tune of a Monty Python tune. Referring to the closeness of the English and Welsh border, they chanted ‘Always s*** on the England side of line.’
Fifa President Gianni Infantino was roundly booed by the crowd when images of him smiling appeared from the ‘VVIP box’ on the stadium screens in the 82nd minute.
There will be more than just pride at stake when England take on Senegal in the Battle of the Lions this Sunday.
The West African side – ranked 18 in the world, one position above Wales – will start the match as underdogs against Gareth Southgate’s men, but they are not without pedigree.
It was 20 years ago that Senegal staged one of the greatest upsets in footballing history, as the unfancied World Cup debutants defeated then-reigning champions France in the opening match of the 2002 tournament.
They made it to the quarter-finals with a team of relative unknowns, such as El Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao and Papa Bouba Diop, all of whom would soon find themselves playing in the Premier League.
Their captain at that tournament, defender Aliou Cisse, now manages the national team.
Before kick-off, chants between the two sets of fans extended to the metro, where one Canadian passenger said his country had banter with the US, ‘but not like this’.
Chants of ‘Wales, Wales’ were soon met with the response of ‘World Cup winners, you’ll never sing that’ as fans gradually made their way into the stadium.
At an investiture ceremony, the King told former Sunderland star Gary Bennett he ‘just wanted a good game of football’ when asked who he would be supporting.
Harry Kane chats to his wife Katie Goodland after his side’s 3-0 win against Wales in Qatar
Luke Shaw kisses his partner Anouska Santos after the Three Lions’ triumph in Qatar tonight
Phil Foden hugs his girlfriend Rebecca Cooke during celebrations in the stands after England’s win
England’s 21-year-old star Bukayo Saka with friends and family after the match
England fan Mick Martin, 62, from Aylesbury, said Wales are a ‘wounded animal’ but added: ‘We should be good enough.
‘If we’re not good enough to beat Wales or get a good result against Wales we really shouldn’t be here, should we?’
Wales supporter Mike Gristwood, 52, from Swansea, said he and his friends were feeling ‘slightly nervous’ ahead of the match.
‘But we’ll be singing our hearts out later and we’ll be that 12th man that gets our boys over the line,’ he said.
England fan Ian Carter, 45, who lives in Llanelli, was heading to the game with his Wales-supporting nephew James Millar and father-in-law Paul Jones after the trio flew in from Dubai.