The World Cup is officially underway and England sealed their first victory against a tenacious Tunisian side last night, seizing a close 2-1 win in Russia. Thanks to Harry Kane’s two goals, one of which was scored in the 91st minute, Gareth Southgate’s side recorded their first win in the opening game of a major tournament since beating Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup.
England vs Tunisia – what went down?
Ready and raring to go, England started on good form with plenty of attacking moves in the first 10 minutes of play, though were defied on several occasions by an impressive, albeit short performance, from Tunisian goalkeeper Mouez Hassen, who went off injured later during the first half. Harry Kane sealed England’s first goal early on, stoking the fire for the team. Let’s hope his calm and confident presence is infectious for the side throughout the rest of the tournament as this has always been a ubiquitous and widely discussed problem for international games, with England lacking some bravery when it comes to attacking.
After building some serious momentum, England’s failure to convert their attacking opportunities came at a price when Ferjani Sassi equalised from an avoidable penalty conceded by Kyle Walker after a foul on Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Tunisia continued to offer up some competition for England and if not for an amazing and literally last minute goal from Kane (90+1), they’d have been taking only a single point back to the dressing room. It was pleasing and encouraging to witness players such as Kane, Maguire and Trippier play as well for England as they would for their respective club sides.
State of play – do England stand a chance?
It was certainly a breath of fresh air to see an England side who played length-based football as opposed to the width-centred defensive game we’re so used to seeing. The decision of a 3-5-2 line up was a smart one by Southgate, allowing England defensive security; credit goes to the midfielders, who showed they could be jacks of all trades, marking effectively, tackling intelligently and being the vital hinge, swinging in all directions.
If this is the type of play England have to offer, we’re certainly be in for some entertaining football, though they may have to show their stamina is up to the likes of powerhouse sides such as Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Germany, who all have an unrelenting amount of energy and resilience to going down 0-1 and pulling it back when it counts. If England can keep their nerve and their heads up when it counts, it could be all to play for.
England face Panama on Sunday in the hope that they can secure 6 points, followed by Belgium Thursday 28th June with whom they are currently joint top in Group 3.
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