Rio Ferdinand believes Marcus Rashford will have made the rest of the top players at the World Cup take notice after his fine display in England’s 3-0 win over Wales.
England ensured they would finish top of Group B with a comfortable victory.
Rashford opened the scoring with a free-kick early in the second half and then won the ball back to help set up the second. He then finished from inside the box to move to three goals for the tournament, making him the joint-top scorer.
Rashford’s start against Wales was his first in Qatar but he will surely be in contention to make the XI against Senegal in the last 16.
“I think this all stems from working hard and getting back to basics,” said former England defender Ferdinand on the BBC about Rashford, who has also shown improvement this season with Manchester United.
“He didn’t look happy for a while. When you have a smiling, confident, hard-working Marcus Rashford he is a devastating player, a game-changer. If he gets you one v one he has the pace to go past you and has imagination and he can finish.
“It all stems from the basic fundamentals of football, which is graft and hard work, which he kind of went away from last season. He’s back to it and I look at the big players at this tournament and they will be looking at him and saying ‘wow, Marcus Rashford’. He’s played himself into the team.”
Former England striker Alan Shearer was also impressed with Rashford’s performance.
“What a second half Marcus Rashford had, incredible.
“It just goes to show, he wasn’t in the team at the start of the tournament, he brings him on and now he’s joint-top scorer at the World Cup and is in with a great shout of the Golden Boot.
“It’s fantastic for the England manager that he has so many options. When you get your opportunity, he had to go out and perform and he did that.”
Rashford was one of four changes for the match as Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Jordan Henderson also made the team.
England struggled to break down Wales in the first half but eased clear after the break.
They finish Group B with seven points and having scored nine goals and conceded two.
“The second half gave you a taste of what we thought England should play like, high press, energy, aggressive without the ball,” added Ferdinand.
“When you feed off those elements there you get the quality and the flamboyancy we can have in this team but you have to have that first bit. We have the profile of players to execute that gameplan.”
Rashford said: “Moments like this is what I play football for, the biggest moments, the best moments, I am really happy today.
“I am happy we are going through to the next round and hopefully we can build on this performance because I still have massive ambitions for this team and I think we can play even better than tonight.”
USA finished second in the group following their 1-0 victory over Iran. They will play Group A winners Netherlands in the last 16.