Russia 2018 Watch: Captain Kane helps England tame Eagles (of Carthage)
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 June 2018
Read our World Cup blog which will be featuring over the coming weeks. Ned Keating looks back at the big game on day five of the competition.
Tough to watch, feisty at times, some baffling decisions and drama right at the death.
But enough about Monday’s episode of Love Island, let’s talk about England’s 2-1 win over Group G rivals Tunisia in Volgograd in their World Cup opener.
As a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I’ve become used to Harry Kane performing the role of ‘Our Lord, Our Saviour’, so it was no surprise to see him net both of the goals for the Three Lions.
When he netted his first in just the 11th minute, firing home on the rebound after Mouez Hassen brilliantly saved a John Stones header, it was to be assumed that Gareth Southgate’s men would cruise to an opening win.
I was watching the game at home with my partner who, as Ashley Young was lining up the corner that subsequently led to Kane’s first, asked why we were watching England as they’re always rubbish (a stronger adjective might have been used).
Credit, then, must go to her for the opening goal, though her prophecy of England being poor came true 24 minutes later when Kyle Walker daftly gave away a penalty.
Say what you want about it being soft, but for me, I can never understand why defenders lay hands on attackers in the box and give the referee a decision to make.
Ferjani Sassi, described by one of my friends as a ‘Poundland Emre Can’ in a WhatsApp message, calmly tucked the spot kick away and England’s good work was undone.
Sassi nearly turned villain for the Eagles of Carthage (superb nickname, by the way) before the break when seemingly wrestling Kane to the ground at a corner.
Many questioned why VAR did not pick that incident up, though ESPN FC editor Dale Johnson did offer an explanation, forgetting that tournament football is no place for making a good point.
The Three Lions looked to be heading for a familiar start to a major competition by dropping points in their opening game, having not won their first match in a tournament since beating Paraguay 1-0 at the 2006 World Cup.
But as he’s done so often for Spurs in recent years, when the chips were down, Kane popped up with a vital goal, this time for England.
The winning goal shouldn’t paper over the cracks, with plenty for Southgate to ponder, but a win is a win and that will no doubt give England a massive lift ahead of facing Panama on Sunday.
Making their World Cup debut, Los Canaleros (meaning the Canal Men) were beaten 3-0 by Belgium, with Romelu Lukaku netting twice – such a shame he didn’t score a hat-trick as we would have had jokes for days.
Elsewhere, Sweden started their tournament with a 1-0 win over South Korea in Group F with Andreas Granqvist netting a penalty awarded by VAR (see, it does work).