France and England set up a mouthwatering quarterfinal after they overpowered their rivals rather comprehensively in the Round 16 matches of the FIFA World Cup on Sunday.
The two nations – archrivals in politics, art, literature, music, food, sports and every other possible sense – will now meet each other on Saturday in the third quarterfinal in Qatar.
In the first match of day, the reigning world champions beat Poland 3-1 in a clash where Kylian Mbappe scored twice while Olivier Giroud netted the ball once to become all-time top scorer for his nation.
Giroud achieved the distinction by scoring 52nd goal of his international career, thus surpassing Thierry Henry. He has so far earned 116 caps for France.
The third on the list in his teammate Antoine Griezmann with 42 goals in 108 matches. However, the players to watch in the coming years is Mbappe who has already managed 33 goals in just 61 matches.
Giroud opened the account for his side in the 44th minute of the first half after Mbappe provided him with an excellent through ball in the box. He finished the job by first controlling the ball and then unleashing a powerful strike with his left foot.
In the second half, Mbappe scored the second when he received a pass from the right flank in the 74th minute. He then scored another one in the first minute of the injury time from the penalty spot.
The consolation goal for Poland came in the dying moments of the match when their star Robert Lewandowski converted a penalty.
England sink Africa’s hope
In the second Round 16 match of the day, England overcame Senegal 3-0 after Jordan Henderson scored in the 38th and Harry Kane in third minute of the first half’s injury time.
Later, Bukayo Saka made it impossible for Senegal to stage a comeback by scoring the third in the 57th minute.
Kane has now netted 11 times at major tournaments, overtaking Gary Lineker as England’s all-time top scorer in those competitions.
But at the tender age of 19, it is Bellingham who has emerged as England’s driving force. He is the first teenager to assist in a World Cup knockout stage game since 1966, having already announced his arrival on the global stage by netting his first England goal in the 6-2 rout of Iran in their group opener.
Just two years after he was playing in the English second tier with Birmingham, the precocious Bellingham was totally unfazed against Senegal in the biggest game of his life.
England will need another command performance from Bellingham if they are to extend their stay in Qatar beyond the last eight.