Even when there are moments of hesitancy in defence, England have the resilience to prevail
Analysis by Rob Harris, sports correspondent
Through the streets of Doha’s West Bay district, a smattering of England fans singing “It’s coming home” could be heard long past 3am.
For a capital unaccustomed to late-night rowdiness, it was an unfamiliar sound during this unique World Cup.
But reaching a tournament quarter-final is becoming familiar territory for the Three Lions.
It’s now three in a row under Gareth Southgate thanks to Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium, around 30 miles up the Persian Gulf coast from Doha.
Talent and ambition are finally living up to expectations.
Winning a trophy is the target after reaching the semi-finals in 2018 and the Euro 2020 final.
But standing in the way of the last-four place is France.
Southgate said: “It’s the biggest test we could face. They’re world champions with an incredible depth of talent and outstanding individual players. They’re very difficult to play against and score goals against, so it’s a fantastic challenge and a brilliant game to prepare for.”
England have five clear days to recover before returning on Saturday to Al Bayt – the stadium inspired by a Bedouin tent.
The last-16 clash with Senegal finally allowed Harry Kane to get off the mark in Qatar after three games without a goal – putting the captain one from Wayne Rooney’s record haul of 53 for England.
Even Jordan Henderson managed a first World Cup goal at 32.
And the new generation dazzled – with 19-year-old Jude Bellingham the creative spark in counterattacks leading to both Kane and Henderson netting in the first half.
A slick move from the youngsters created the third after the break. Phil Foden provided the cross and Buyako Saka the deft touch.
After sloppiness nearly gifted Senegal an opener, England cruised to a 3-0 victory.
A third consecutive clean sheet will offer encouragement that, even when there are moments of hesitancy in defence, England has the resilience to prevail.
Any mistakes, though, could prove costly and be punished by Kylian Mbappe and co on Saturday.
There’s time to prevent that.
And England fans will hope to still be dancing through the streets of Doha for another two weeks – with the World Cup then heading home.