Captain Kane delivers for England
Captain Harry Kane scored a late winner as England started their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Tunisia. A draw looked likely as the game went into added time but Kane’s excellent late header secured three points for England.
Harry Kane gave England a winning start in their first group game at Russia 2018. England started brightly but a Tunisian equaliser led to a cagey, cautious affair that Kane settled with a headed goal in injury time.
England started this game with perhaps the lowest of expectations that have been placed on the national team in living memory. Perhaps due to this, England started the game with a sense of purpose not associated with Lingard.
Jesse Lingard was unfortunate not to score early on, Tunisia keeper Mouez Hassen was rather fortunate to save the shot from the Manchester United player but the reprieve was short lived with Harry Kane finding the opener in the 11th minute.
The England captain took advantage when the Tunisian goalkeeper could only hook John Stones’ goalward header. The Tottenham player had shades of Gary Lineker with his opportunistic positioning and showed true poaching ability to give England a deserved lead.
A goalkeeping injury for Tunisia saw keeper Mouez Hassen replaced with Ben Mustapha. England’s Jordan Henderson tested the substitute from range within seconds, but Mustapha held well to deny the 28-year-old Liverpool captain.
A dominant England were turning on the style, Lingard was guilty of squandering another chance, he had an opportunity to double England’s lead but could only watch as his effort hit the floor to go wide!
By the 27th minute England had 61% of the ball and seven goal attempts to show for their dominance but almost predictably, failure to convert the chances would haunt England when Tunisia scored in the 35th minute.
Kylie Walker seemed to shield Ben Yousseff when a ball came in from the right. Walker had an outstretched arm which connected to the Tunisian’s face. The referee didn’t hesitate and pointed to the spot, a penalty that Ferjani Sassi duly dispatches.
England’s Jordan Pickford was unlucky with the penalty; he guessed correctly and managed to touch the shot with his fingertips but Sassi’s shot evaded Pickford and the 26-year old was celebrating a goal against the run of play.
The game lost much of its earlier intensity and looked to be ambling towards a draw. But just two years from Harry Kane taking corners at Euro 2016, Kane would hit the headlines for scoring off two corners.
England’s right-back Kieran Trippier’s corner was flicked on brilliantly by Leicester City’s Harry Maguire. Kane was lurking unmarked at the post and produced an excellent header to give England the points in the 1st minute of added time.
What many England fans will be unhappy about, and something Harry Kane mentioned himself post-match, is the inconsistent use of VAR.
When Tunisia was awarded their penalty, VAR was consulted and although Kylie Walker’s contact was minimal, by Premier League standards it was a generous decision. Harry Kane was subject to two instances of a player holding him back, both offences appeared more severe than Walker’s offence. Fifa seem to agree with the points raised, they have agreed to investigate the inconsistencies.
England will hope to build on this winning start; they next play on Sunday against Panama. England can expect frustrating tactics as the Central Americans try to nullify the England attack. England will be looking to emulate group rivals Belgium. The Belgians beat Panama 3-0 in their Group G match.