European ‘Sleeping' Giants, England were rescued by their captain Harry Kane when they played their first game of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia on Monday. They faced off against Tunisia in a Group G encounter.
England was in their famous Red Kit that the team wore when they won the FIFA World Cup title in 1966. This team, however, had shades of class in it. No player was taken to the tournament on the basis of their name, but their form and that's exactly what they displayed right off the block.
Swarming Tunisia, England had the majority of the possession and looked like a team that believed in themselves and creating chances at will. Manchester United's Jesse Lingard took one by the line and squared it to Raheem Sterling, but he somehow missed his shot. From the looks of things, an England goal was inevitable. In the eleventh minute, it became a reality. Harry Maguire lept the highest from a corner from Ashley Young. Tunisia's Mouez Hassan made a sensational save but the rebound came to the English captain Harry Kaneburiedurried the shot past the keeper.
Hassan was having some problems with his shoulder had to be substituted. The keeper was teary-eyed, it must hurt a lot to be made to sit on the bench due to an injury while your team is playing in the World Cup.
24 minutes had gone by and Tunisia still had to touch the ball in England's half. They did so immediately after that and seemed to have recovered from the shock of an early goal. They earned a corner and their talisman Wahib Khazri was getting space to play key passes to his strike partners. It appeared that England had lost their early energy and was not as quick to on the ball as they were before. Tunisia used this opportunity to start their waves of attacks.
A ball is curled into the England box, Kyle Walker holds off Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and referee Wilmar Roldán points to the spot. Ferjani Sassi aptly converts it and the scores are level. England's old habit of letting the game come back to them cost them the early advantage, and all the hard work had to be done again.
The Three Lions didn't give up, and once again gained the control of the game. It would almost appear that they needed this reality check to get going again. Just before the half-time one of their chances were almost converted, but Lingard hit the post. Nothing else significant took place after that in the first half.
The second-half had a similar start to that of the first. Harry Kane was fouled in the penalty box and it should've been a penalty, but once again the referee didn't want to consult the VAR. If the referees are going to not even venture into the thought of using the technology sometimes, then what is the point of it even being there.
England deployed a long-ball game, hoping to play the off-side line, but Tunisia had an extra player whenever their opponents got the ball in the final third.
In the middle of the second half, Tunisia seemed to have appeared to defend this score. A draw with England would mean it was a valuable point.
However, this tactic is a double-edged sword, giving more possession to their opponents, resulting in more chances for them.
Tunisia hadn't attempted a shot on target since the 35th minute of the game and this was the story of this match. It became cagey and flat. Whatever England tried, be it substitutions or all-out attack. They always had a defensive wall in front of them. Frankly, it appeared that the English players actually had no ideas on what to do and how to create more chances.
But their skipper had other ideas, his second goal was similar to the first one which resulted from a corner. Harry Kane was in the right place and at the right time to put his side ahead and take these crucial three oints.
With Belgium beating Panama, England has rescued themselves from potential embarassment. The encouter between the two though would be mouthwatering.