Wales' exit, super Rashford and goal-getting Gakpo: Five takeaways from day 10 of World Cup 2022

England's Marcus Rashford scores their first goal from a free kick past Wales' Danny Ward during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and England at Al Janoub Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
(Image credit: Hannah McKay - Pool/Getty Images)

Day 10 of World Cup 2022 was the first without the morning kick-offs – but we still had our fair share of excitement across the four games of the day.

The 3pm kickoffs saw Group A wrap up with Netherlands beating Qatar, while at the same time, Senegal took on Ecuador to decide the runners-up behind the Oranje. Senegal triumphed – while Qatar finished their home tournament without a point to their name.

Group B sealed itself in the later kick-offs, with Iran playing the United States for a place in the next round against the Dutch. The United States won 1-0 through a Christian Pulisic goal – while in the other game, the Welsh were hoping for a miracle. 

It didn't happen. The Dragons were unlucky in some respects to come up against a resurgent Marcus Rashford, while the team performance as a whole was a notch up after a dismal draw against the States. We say goodbye to Wales in this tournament, following a 3-0 loss. 

Here's everything that we learned from the match. 

Glorious Gakpo is a Golden Boot contender 

Cody Gakpo of Netherlands celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Netherlands and Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar.

(Image credit: Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

There's no stopping Cody Gakpo right now. The PSV forward will have added millions to his price tag during the group stage, after scoring in all three of the Netherlands' games (opens in new tab) to earn them top spot in Group A. 

His latest goal, a superb low drive in a win over Qatar, was a historic moment, making Gakpo just the fourth Dutch player to score in three consecutive World Cup matches.

He's in illustrious company – the others are Johan Neeskens, Dennis Bergkamp and Wesley Sneijder. 

The 23-year-old has now joined Kylian Mbappe and Enner Valencia at the top of the Golden Boot charts – could he become the Netherlands' first ever winner of the coveted individual prize? 

Qatar are the worst hosts ever – by a distance

Qatar's campaign won't live long in the memory. Their final performance was just as flat as their first, as they offered little in a flat 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands. 

Felix Sanchez's side exit the tournament as the worst host team ever, and the first to not pick up a single point. 

A nice goal in a 3-1 defeat to Senegal was as good as it got, but as things stand the Asian Cup holders are heading for the wooden spoon. 

Even without Sadio Mane, Senegal shouldn’t be underestimated 

Senegal World Cup 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Coming into World Cup 2022, Senegal looked set to cause problems for other nations and potentially even top Group A. Upon losing Sadio Mane to injury, though, the hype died down and their progress to the knockout stages seemed unlikely.

However, their win against Ecuador proved they still have plenty of quality all over the pitch, their performance deserving of a last-16 place. They can obviously perform astutely under the pressure, too, considering they entered their fixture with Ecuador knowing they needed to win or they wouldn’t go through - even after conceding as the game drew level, Senegal showed incredible character to come back just minutes later and regain their lead. 

Kalidou Koulibaly managed to handle top goalscorer Enner Valencia with ease, keeping him under wraps as Ecuador had to find a way to goal through a corner. While the South Americans enjoyed more possession than Senegal, their intensity proved too much to handle as they closed down the spaces really well in their defensive third.

And then, after all that, they still have the quality up front to cause anyone problems. Sheffield United forward Iliman Ndiaye is a handful for defences, Boulaye Dia is a useful focal point, while Ismaila Sarr coolly dispatched an expertly-placed penalty. 

Last but not least, they’re Africa Cup of Nations champions – they know how to win, and that certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Marcus Rashford is England's most in-form attacker

Marcus Rashford of England celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and England at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

(Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It was Raheem Sterling last summer at Euro 2020, having the tournament of his life when the Three Lions got to the final. This time it might be Marcus Rashford who's proving himself undroppable for England. 

The Manchester United forward wasn't quite as popular a choice to be starting against Wales as Phil Foden, with former United star Gary Neville among those clamouring for the City forward. Rashford was excellent in the second half, however, first by striking the ball across Danny Ward from a free-kick to open a scoring before Phil Foden netted minutes later. Rashford had a second for himself with a wonderful goal later on.

Everything he touches is turning to gold right now. Surely he has to be in the line-up against Senegal? He's in a rich vein of form.

Add to that the likes of Jack Grealish, Foden scoring today, Bukayo Saka, who scored twice in the opening game against Iran and Callum Wilson who came off the bench… it's fair to say England have a wealth of exciting options in attack. Perhaps England should be even more confident than they were with their forwards last summer. 

Wales are due a rebuild

Gareth Bale goes off at half-time in Wales' World Cup clash against England in Qatar.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Poor Wales. The Dragons looked particularly tired at World Cup 2022, with Ashley Williams admitting on the BBC coverage that the tournament was already lost before the England game. 

But the gulf in class between the Welsh and the English was plain to see today, with Rob Page's team looking second-best in every area of the pitch. Losing at Gareth Bale went off at half-time through injury didn't help matters, either – while Aaron Ramsey, arguably their other superstar, looked way off the pace.

It's proof that Wales have come to the end of their cycle, looking to rely on the likes of Bale, Ramsey and Joe Allen, who struggled with injury in the run-up to the tournament. The future lies with Brennan Johnson and others, who will surely play a bigger role at Euro 2024 – and Rob Page (assuming he stays on) will probably have to integrate some of these new faces in as the next cornerstones in qualification for the next tournament. 

It's a sad way for the Welsh journey to end – and perhaps a few more Welsh journeys will be ending, too. 

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio. 

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