A Harry Kane brace was enough for England as they defeated Tunisia 2-1 in their opening Group G game in Volgograd. England, who were looking to get off to the best possible start to their tournament after losing their opener in 2014 against Italy, saw off the Tunisians, leaving it until the first minute of injury time to seal the win.
The Three Lions started the game very brightly with Jesse Lingard forcing a save from goalkeeper, Mouez Hassen and dominating possession in the early stages. Their bright start paid dividends when talisman, Harry Kane was on-hand to slot home after John Stones’ header was spectacularly saved by Hassen on the 11th minute mark. England did not ease off as Lingard had two decent chances and one seemingly simple one as well as Jordan Henderson’s long range effort being well held by substitute keeper, Farouk Ben Mustapha, who replaced the injured Hassen.
Despite England’s dominance, Tunisia were awarded a penalty after Kyle Walker was adjudged to have caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with his elbow after thirty-five minutes. Ferjani Sassi tucked the penalty away, despite keeper, Jordan Pickford going the right way and getting a slight touch on its way past.
Out the teams came in the second half and England did not continue their impressive performance from the first half as it took them a while to get to grips with the game and really go for it. Tunisia were simply playing to run down the clock as they were satisfied with a draw and were doing everything they could to kill the game off; not creating any real chances in the process. England started to attack Tunisia once more after the introductions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who replaced Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli.
Time seemed to be ticking away but in the ninety-first minute, Harry Maguire was found from a corner and flicked it almost perfectly onto the head of his namesake, Harry Kane, who calmly nodded into the net from inside the six-yard box to seal the victory for England.
England’s 2-1 victory meant it was the first time they had won their opening World Cup group game since the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The next test for the Three Lions will be against Panama on Sunday, in a match would could see them qualify for the Round of 16, if Belgium also won their game against Tunisia.
featured image credit Sky News