Rashford, 25, hammered home a free kick past Danny Ward early in the second half, put in the tackle on Ben Davies that started the move culminating in Phil Foden’s far post tap-in for the second and then slammed in a third himself to kill off the Welsh resistance once and for all.
After bending in the free kick, the Manchester United forward celebrated with his teammates before sinking to his knees, closing his eyes and pointing two fingers towards the sky, uttering a few private words to himself before resuming the game.
Afterwards, Rashford explained the meaning behind his emotional celebration by revealing: “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.”
That friend was Garfield Hayward, 35, a Manchester native whose passing over the weekend inspired tributes to be paid on social media and flowers to be laid in his memory around the city.
Also paying tribute to Hayward this week was his nephew Steven, who wrote online: “My heart is hurting so much knowing I won’t see you again in this life. Uncle Garf one of the realist people I’ve ever know. You was a big part of my life growing up. Just wish we could of made alot more memories together, it won’t be the same without you being here. You was the man with the most beautiful soul.
“You didn’t have a bad bone in your body you would give anything and everything you could with even a single bit of hesitation. I love you man and I’m so glad I got to tell you that. You will forever be in my thoughts and my heart till the day I die.”
Another friend, Calder Taylor, shared a video of the tributes being left for Hayward, one of which read: “Big Garf was loved by the whole of Manchester and everyone who had the privilege of meeting him. Sending prayers and strength to all of his close friends family and loved ones.”
England’s victory, inspired by their man of the match, means they finish Group B as winners and now advance to the knockout stages in Qatar, where they will face a tough opponent in Senegal on Sunday evening.