Marcus Rashford has revealed the emotional reasoning behind the celebration for his first goal in England’s 3-0 victory over Wales.
It was a memorable night for the Manchester United forward who scored twice to ensure England took top spot in Group B and advance to the last-16.
After scoring his first goal, Rashford dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky in what was a poignant celebration for the man-of-the-match’s friend, Garfield Hayward, who died two days before the game after a long battle with cancer.
After celebrating with his team-mates he dropped to his knees and pointed towards the sky
Marcus Rashford posted a selfie to his Instagram account following his heroics with the caption: ‘Special moments’
Rashford kisses his partner Lucia Loi as England’s players greeter their families following the match
Rashford sits with his girlfriend Ms Loi and gives a thumbs up after his brace helped England reach the last 16
Rashford celebrates after scoring his second and England’s third in their win over Wales
England manager Gareth Southgate embraces Rashford as the pair leave the pitch at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Rashford dedicated the goal to a friend who has recently died after a long battle with cancer
It was an emotional night for the forward, whose friend died two days before the game after a long battle with cancer
Rashford celebrates with a clenched fist after scoring his side’s third goal during the World Cup match against Wales – also his third of the tournament
During his post-match interview, he said: ‘Unfortunately I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago.
‘He’s had quite a long battle with cancer, so I’m pleased I managed to score 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 was brought into the starting eleven for the first time in Qatar and has given Gareth Southgate a selection headache going into their last-16 clash with Senegal on Sunday.
‘It’s been a challenge for him,’ said the England manager, who was unaware that Rashford’s friend had died in the build-up to the game.
‘I went and saw him in the summer, had a long chat with him and he had some clear ideas on things that he felt he needed to think about and to do.
It was a big night for Rashford who also scored England’s third goal as they sealed qualification
Marcus Rashford scored a stunning free-kick to open the scoring in a 3-0 victory for England
Rashford and England midfielder Jordan Henderson celebrate together after England’s third goal
After scoring his first goal, Rashford dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky in what was a poignant celebration
The moment Rashford cut inside onto his left foot and struck a low shot through the legs of Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward
‘He could have had a hat-trick, really, with the chance in the first half and then the one at the near post towards the end.
‘But great for him and because it’s great for him it’s great for us.’
After a quiet opening half, England stepped up a gear in the second with Rashford scoring a stunning free-kick to give the Three Lions the lead.
Man City star Phil Foden doubled the lead before Rashford added a third for the Three Lions – having also scored as a substitute in the 6-2 victory over Iran.
Rashford took to Twitter after the game to post his second goal celebration, as he jumped for joy, surrounded by his England teammates, alongside the captain: ‘Last 16 here we come.’
Rashford celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s third goal during the match against Wales
Rashford has given Gareth Southgate a selection headache after only bringing in the Man United star for the Wales game after he started on the bench in the prior two games
Rashford is congratulated by England coach Chris Powell after being substituted during the game
The Manchester United forward poses with the Budweiser Player of the Match following his brace
The 25-year-old after the game told the BBC: ‘It’s obviously a great feeling. We were disappointed as a team after the last game, we could have played a lot better.
‘The only way to bounce back is to play better in your next game.
‘Moments like this, this is what I play football for. I am really happy today to be going into the next round of the tournament, because I have massive ambition for this team and I think we can go a lot further.’
Speaking of his free-kick goal which opened the scoring and eventually sparked England’s victory, Rashford said: ‘I fancied one in the first half, but the one in the second was in a better position.
‘Then it’s being calm and executing what you do in training.’
After the game the Three Lions stars – who have a day off in Qatar today – mingled with family and friend sin the stands.
Beaming model Sasha Attwood reunited with boyfriend Jack Grealish while captain Harry Kane – who is yet to score at this tournament – and his wife Katie were spotted sharing a sweet catch up pitch side, and Luke Shaw had a kiss planted on him by his long-term partner Anouska Santos.
Mason Mount was also delighted to get up to the stands after the match to greet his family, while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and his partner Megan Davison got together for a catch up.
After the game Marcus celebrated his two goals by having a kiss with his fiancée Lucia Loi while Kalvin Phillips had a warm embrace with girlfriend Ashleigh Behan among the crowds.
Another WAG present at the match was Aaron Ramsdale’s fiancée Georgina Irwin who also gave her partner a sweet smooch following the clash.