World Cup

Bellingham has advanced, according to Southgate.

Even though Jude Bellingham, 19, has taken the World Cup by the scruff of the neck, England manager Gareth Southgate, who already knew the 19-year-old was something special, has been surprised.

Bellingham led England into the quarterfinals with a dominant performance in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Senegal, two weeks after his goalscoring World Cup debut against Iran.

Prior to launching the attack that resulted in Harry Kane making it 2-0 just before halftime, he produced an astonishing run from deep inside his own half to set up the opening goal for fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson.

According to statisticians Opta, with his assist for Henderson, he became the youngest adolescent to assist on a World Cup knockout-round goal since records first started being kept in 1966.

“I don’t think we could have predicted how quickly Bellingham could mature. In the last five months that has gone to another level,” Southgate said of the Borussia Dortmund player, who is reported to be a 100 million pounds ($123.41 million) target for Liverpool.

Bellingham will surpass all other midfielders in the world, according to Bellingham’s 22-year-old England teammate Phil Foden, who assisted on two goals on Sunday.

“I don’t want to big him up too much because he is still young, but he’s one of the most gifted players I have ever seen,” Foden said. “He has no weakness in his game.”

Henderson, whose performance was also key to England’s victory, added: “I can’t keep saying nice things about him because we’re talking about a one-off.”

Bellingham unexpectedly took charge of the game in the first half while England was struggling to contain Senegal. His first-half statistics spoke for themselves.

The best passing percentage of any player on the field, he won the most duels (eight), tackles (three), won possession twice in the final third, and completed 23 of 24 passes.

One of many commentators who praised his performance was the former England defender Rio Ferdinand.

“Jude Bellingham is 19, I want to see his birth certificate,” he said on Twitter.

On Saturday, England will play France in the quarterfinals. If they win, they will match their 2018 run to the semifinals, but given Bellingham’s current form, they will be confident that they can advance even further.

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