Marcus Rashford pays World Cup tribute to late friend with goal celebration
Marcus Rashford paid tribute to a late friend who recently died following a long battle with cancer after he scored twice against Wales to send England through to the last-16 of the World Cup.
The Manchester United forward opened the scoring with a long-range free-kick five minutes after half-time and, after Phil Foden doubled the lead, Rashford added his second to send Wales crashing out of their first World Cup since 1950.
Rashford celebrated by dropping to his knees and pointing to the skies with both hands, and he revealed afterwards that the gesture was a tribute to his friend Garfield Hayward who recently passed away after suffering from serious illness.
“I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago,” Rashford said. “He had quite a long battle with cancer. I’m pleased I scored 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 scored two goals in a match for the first time in his England career, after being handed his first start in Qatar by manager Gareth Southgate, and Rashford could not hide his delight in helping to secure a last-16 tie against Senegal.
“Moments like this, this is what we play football for, the biggest moments, the best moments and I’m really happy today with going through to the next round of the tournament,” Rashford said.
Watch: Fans react as England beat Wales at the World Cup
“Hopefully we can now build on this tournament and I have massive ambition for this team. We can play better than we have shown tonight.
“It’s obviously good to qualify. It was a little bit disappointing for the team after the game against the USA, I thought we could have played a lot better. The only way to bounce back from that is to have a good performance in your next game and I thought in the first half we defended really good and they didn’t have many opportunities - I think they had one shot - and it was just about us killing the game off and taking the chances when they came.
“At half-time the manager said we were playing really well but the one thing we could work better on was having shots on target, we only had two or three in the first half. We wanted to work the goalkeeper more, we wanted to keep getting into dangerous positions. We didn’t finish them in the first half but thankfully we did in the second half.”
Rashford switched flanks with Foden at half-time, moving from the left of striker Harry Kane to the right, with the tactical change and a sharp increase in intensity bringing instant rewards as he converted a 50th-minute free-kick - the first scored at this tournament in 36 matches.
“I fancied one in the first half but to be fair the one in the second half was in a better position,” Rashford added. “From there it’s just about being calm and trying to execute what you do in training. They don’t go in often but it went in today.”