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Who were England’s standout performers against Senegal?

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It’s not…is it? It might be. France await in the quarter-finals on Saturday but England should be full of confidence after their performance against Senegal.

The first half an hour was shaky. Gareth Southgate’s side began the game rather tentatively and were perhaps fortunate not to be a goal down after some slack defending from Harry Maguire and then some carelessness in possession from Bukayo Saka.

Senegal, however, couldn’t take their chances which allowed England to show them just how ruthless tournament football can be. From the moment Jude Bellingham sauntered up the pitch and his midfield partner Jordan Henderson tucked home the opening goal it was all over – there was only one team playing after that.

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In stark contrast to many England teams down the years, this one is spirited, resilient and, above all, hungry. Give them an inch and they take a mile. Kylian Mbappe and company will pose a far greater test than the Senegalese, missing their own superstar in Sadio Mane, but one that England have every chance of overcoming given their displays at the World Cup so far (USA aside).

Here are the best performers from England’s 3-0 win over Senegal.

Jordan Pickford

Pickford always steps up for England / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

There was a moment in the first half when England looked as though they would go behind – only for Jordan Pickford to pull off an outstanding save to help turn the tide. It came after Boulaye Dia was picked out by Ismaila Sarr and found himself through at a tight angle. John Stones got back to pressure but Dia still managed to fire a shot hard across the face of goal.

With England hearts in their mouths, Pickford stuck out a meaty left paw to beat it away. No dice. Not today. Dia…get it?

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Looking back, it’s an incredible save as Dia’s shot bobbled up off the ground and would have been extremely difficult to read. The drive came at the Everton goalkeeper hard and at an awkward height but he dealt with the chance superbly. It is on such moments that games can turn and soon after England took the lead.

Others will get the headlines, but Pickford’s contribution should not be forgotten – he’s as consistent a performer as they come between the sticks for England.

Jude Bellingham

Bellingham has been one of the stars of the World Cup so far / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Credit to Jordan Henderson for making the run and finishing off the move but England’s first goal of the night was all Jude Bellingham. In fact, so too was the second as he robbed a sloppy Pathe Ciss in possession and surged up the pitch, gliding past Senegalese defenders like they weren’t there.

The thing with Bellingham is that he’s such an intelligent player, even at only 19 years of age. In both instances, he used his outstanding anticipation (amplified by physical attributes you simply should not possess as a teenager) to read the play before anyone else and find space.

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He then also had the awareness and weight of pass to cut back for Henderson to tap in or find Phil Foden perfectly in stride off his left foot – Foden didn’t need to slow down or alter his body position one bit, allowing him to then put Harry Kane one-vs-one with his first touch.

Bellingham makes it look so, so easy. It’s the proverbial men against boys flipped on its head. This is a guy who isn’t 20 until June dominating in World Cup games. It’s absurd.

Make no mistake about it, we’re looking at one of the very best central midfielders in the world right now. It is now frightening to imagine Bellingham even five years further down the line.

Phil Foden

Foden has started the last two games for England and impressed in both / Alex Livesey – Danehouse/GettyImages

Let’s be clear, the clamour for Phil Foden to be included in the starting line-up for England was completely justified. We have seen exactly why over the past two games.

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Against Senegal, Foden played a decisive role in all three England goals, showcasing the fact that he can do things on the ball most other players in this squad can only dream of. It is his daring touchline backheel that feeds Harry Kane who in turn set Bellingham away for the first.

He unselfishly tees up Kane with a first-time pass for the second. For the third, he pounces on a loose ball, hurdles the challenge of Real Betis fullback Youssouf Sabaly and puts a low cross on a plate for Bukayo Saka.

Balance, poise and control. Foden is a breath of fresh air in the England midfield and if his inclusion means Gareth Southgate having to play Henderson as a 6 to offer greater defensive stability then that is a trade-off almost every England fan will take.

Harry Kane

Kane scored his first goal of the tournament against Senegal / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Harry Kane has got his goal, which is a relief if only because we now no longer have to talk about Harry Kane not getting his goal or listen to Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer talk about Harry Kane not getting his goal.

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He finished it as Kane always does, head down and laces through the ball, giving Edouard Mendy no chance to save the shot even if he had attempted to actually dive in its general direction.

But it was Kane’s hold-up play, constant movement into deep positions and inventive passing that really set his performance apart. It’s often a criticism that Kane isn’t always in the six-yard box to finish chances or get on the end of crosses, but having him find pockets of space in which to turn and feed either Foden, Bellingham or Bukayo Saka running beyond is a far better use of his talents.

Kane is more than just a poacher, he’s a 9 and 10 rolled into one. Given how Robert Lewandowski performed at this World Cup – isolated, anonymous, barely able to convert a penalty – England should be forever grateful Kane’s all-round game is as refined as it is.



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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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