Tunisia 1-2 England: Three Lions ride frustration, win late on

Tunisia 1-2 England: Three Lions ride frustration, win late on

Captain Harry Kane netted twice, early and late, to give England a deserved win after a frustrating night against Tunisia in Volgograd, winning only in the 91st-minute.

Harry Robinson
TunisiaHassen (Ben Mustapha 14'); Meriah, Syam Ben Youssef, Bronn, Maaloul; Skhiri, Badri, Sassi; Fakhereedine Ben Youssef, Khazri (Khalifi 85)', Sliti (Ben Amor 74').
EnglandPickford; Trippier, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Young; Henderson, Alli (Loftus-Cheek 80'), Lingard (Dier 90+2'); Sterling (Rashford 68'), Kane.
SCORE0-1, min. 10, Kane. 1-1, min. 35, Sassi. 1-2, min. 90+1, Kane.

English football is not normally transcended with calmness or tranquillity. It was before the Three Lions' opening game of the 2018 World Cup, but that serene atmosphere has been severely challenged in Volgograd. First, it seemed a typical English start that would earn the typical backpages, but that was before captain Harry Kane headed home a 91st-minute winner.

Manager Gareth Southgate's celebration was just as passionate and public as it was when he was a player. His players, meanwhile, celebrated both goals with a pile-on that sent smiles all the way back to England from 2,165 miles away.

Dramatic end as Kane is matchwinner

There was great positivity in England's start, especially in a match against a tough North African side who have an extremely solid midfield and a rough, but similarly solid, defence. It was a great build-up to the tournament, but this was a match of great frustration, until it was an ending of passion, celebration and, most importantly, three points.

Kane's late header was of high quality, directing it perfectly into the left side of the goal, having hung back on the far side of the goal as a late cross came in.

Despite Raheem Sterling being closed out by constant marking from the Tunisian defence, Alli and Lingard combined well in the space that Sterling created, creating three chances in the first 10 minutes. Sterling did get some space at one point, and got on the end of a cut-back from Lingard. The offside flag was up, but Sterling's mistiming of his shot was embarrassing nevertheless.

Kane got his first action with a long-range shot and tapped in from the subsequent corner. John Stones powered a fantastic header into the top right corner after an accurate and well-weighted cross from Young. Hassen clawed it out fantastically, having already picked up an injury, but Kane was on hand to tap it over the goalkeeper, who was soon replaced with a shoulder injury.

Throughout England's team, performances were good. Harry Maguire, in particular, was notably impressive both stepping out of defence and aerially. The Leicester City man was chosen ahead of Gary Cahill and won seven aerial duels, equal to the whole of the Tunisian side.

Penalty controversy for England

England's dominance continued, and they could have been two or three ahead over the course of the match. That was until Kyle Walker suffered a soft penalty decision, his flailing arm striking Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and the Tunisian falling down dramatically. VAR was checked, and approved. Controversy was not spared.

Tunisia always present some kind of challenge, but it looked likely to be swept away when England's first clear chance came after just two minutes, Jesse Lingard sweeping into the bottom right corner only to see Hassen save it well.

The match drifted away from England. Southgate's men started with impressive urgency and fluidity, and captain Harry Kane poked his side in front, but after a controversial penalty for Tunisia, England's handbraked was yanked upwards.

Penetrative passes were replaced by those going sideways and backwards, and good movement from Kane and his attacking helpers transformed into staticity that Tunisia could deal with.

But, England came away with victory, and deservedly so. They rode a rough wave, stayed on their board, and thanked captain Kane for a late winner. England made the chances, scored the goals, survived controversy, and have three points.