Marcus Rashford’s brilliant double helped England reach the knockout phase as group winners and brought Wales’ first World Cup appearance since 1958 to an end.
Welsh hopes of progressing were hanging by a thread heading into a Group B finale in which Gareth Southgate’s side only needed to avoid a four-goal defeat to progress to the last 16.
The 104th meeting of the old foes was the first to be played at a World Cup and England comprehensively won 3-0 as Phil Foden scored either side of Rashford’s fine goals.
The reward is a last-16 meeting with Senegal on Sunday, by which point Robert Page’s side will have long since left Qatar after their first appearance on the world stage in 64 years ended in frustration.
"It's a great feeling," said England's man-of-the match Rashford. "Moments like this, this is what I play football for.
"The biggest moments, the best moments. I'm happy we are going through to the next round of the tournament because I have massive ambitions for this team and I think we can play even better than we did today.
"We were a little bit disappointed after the USA result. Thought we could've played a lot better, and it was important to have a good performance the next game. We defended brilliantly in the first half and it was just about killing the game off early and taking the chances.
"Half-time the manager said we've played well but we need more shots on goal – I think we only had two or three. We wanted to work the keeper more and get into dangerous positions, which I thought we were doing in the first half and in the second half we made them count."
Chesney Hawkes’ surprising half-time appearance was the most entertaining moment of the evening until the 50th minute, when Rashford stepped up to score a stupendous free-kick.
But it was not to be his one and only goal in Al Rayyan.
Foden turned home a fine Harry Kane cross within two minutes of the opener, before Rashford ended a mazy run by finishing through back-up goalkeeper Danny Ward’s legs.
The 25-year-old, making his first England start since June 2021, left to a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.
England were quickest out of the blocks and would have gone ahead inside 10 minutes had it not been for Ward’s quick thinking.
Kane’s smart, defence-splitting ball put Rashford through, only for the goalkeeper – in for suspended Wayne Hennessey – to smother the attempt having dashed off his line.
Foden drove wide and Rashford saw a fizzing drive headed away by Neco Williams, who was left with a suspected concussion and was eventually replaced.
Connor Roberts came into a defence that was nearly undone by a superb free-flowing move soon after, only for Foden to lash off target at the end of it.
Brennan Johnson replaced Wales captain Gareth Bale at the break, but their hopes of a first win against England since 1984 were quickly extinguished.
Joe Rodon was adjudged to have fouled Foden and Rashford took the resulting free-kick from 24 yards, unleashing a sensational effort that beat Ward and found the back of the net in the 50th minute.
Within two minutes England were celebrating again.
Rashford pressed Ben Davies on the right flank and the ball ricocheted forward to Kane, who sent a low driven cross to the far post where Foden coolly passed home.
Rashford then capped a fine night for the Three Lions, with a fine run showing good footwork and composure before sending a fierce strike through Ward’s legs for England’s 100th goal at World Cup finals tournaments.
England fans chanted Southgate’s name just days after boos greeted the final whistle against the USA, and John Stones went close in stoppage-time to adding gloss to an emphatic win.