Pictured: Friend who Marcus Rashford dedicated World Cup goal to after losing long cancer battle

30 November 2022, 09:46 | Updated: 30 November 2022, 11:36

Rashford dedicated the goal to his friend
Rashford dedicated the goal to his friend. Picture: Alamy/Instagram

By Emma Soteriou

Marcus Rashford has dedicated his World Cup goals against Wales to a friend who died two days ago.

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It was a memorable night for the 25-year-old who led England to victory in the Battle of Britain.

After a quiet opening half, England stepped up a gear in the second with Rashford scoring a free-kick to give the Three Lions the lead.

After scoring his first goal, Rashford dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky in a touching tribute.

He later revealed it was a nod to his friend, Garfield Hayward, who died two days before the game after a long battle with cancer.

Read more: England 3-0 Wales: Three Lions roar into next round of the World Cup with routine win over timid Dragons

Read more: England fans in crusader costumes banned from World Cup stadiums

Rashford pointed to the sky after finding the net
Rashford pointed to the sky after finding the net. Picture: Alamy

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."

Phil Foden went on to double the lead before Rashford scored again during the game, taking England through to the last 16 where they will face Senegal.

Rashford celebrating his second goal
Rashford celebrating his second goal. Picture: Alamy
Gareth Southgate celebrating with Rashford
Gareth Southgate celebrating with Rashford. Picture: Alamy

Last night marked the first time Rashford was brought into the starting eleven in Qatar.

"It's been a challenge for him," said England manager Gareth Southgate, 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.

"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."

England beat Wales 3-0 to go through to the second round of the World Cup.

Underdogs Wales needed to win by four clear goals to have a chance of progressing after draw and a defeat in previous games, but never looked much like defying the odds.

Celebrating the win, Rashford posted his second goal celebration on Twitter, showing him jumping for joy.

He captioned the image: "Last 16 here we come."