Tunisia suffered a blow to their 2018 World Cup campaign after (captain) Harry Kane netted a brace with a goal in each half to give England a late win in Group G’s second fixture. The two teams last met in the 1998 edition with England comfortably winning 2-0. But Tunisia’s recent rise in foreign-based talent propelled their football new new levels, especially when led by former Premier League player, Wahbi Khazri, and they had high hopes in their country to do well in this year’s tournament.
England’s record in major tournaments is utterly terrible, with their best recent finishes in the World Cup being in 1990 and 2006. Managed by a 1998 World Cup icon, Gareth Soutgate, England were (of course) the favourites for this game, but English fans and media continued to put pressure on the team to win the World Cup. Delivering a second title since 1966 seems like a great obsession for football’s home country. However, this England team may not be quite ripe enough to do so. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Rashford, Lingard all seem like they’re not mature enough to carry the Three Lions through. But maybe, just maybe, we can expect a title charge in 2022.
Kane carried his Tottenham form into the tournament and threatened from the start with smart movement in and around the Tunisia box. Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard looked bright as well, but neither of them could have converted their chances. England did take the lead in the 11th minute, though, when Mouez Hassen parried John Stones’ header from a corner, and (who else?) Kane buried the rebound from 6 yards out. Murphy’s Law seemed to be in effect for the African nation when Hassan had to be substituted in the 16th minute after, possibly, fracturing his left arm in an attempt to make a save, and on came substitute keeper, Farouk Ben Mustapha.
However, Tunisia were given an opportunity to get themselves back in the game when Kyle Walker handled in the box, and Ferjani Sassi coolly converted the penalty. England were at square one, being typical England again. Surely, they weren’t going to throw this one away too?
England struggled to break down the Tunisian defence; and when they did, they lacked the final touch to finish things off. They were revitalized, though, when Rashford and Loftus-Cheek were introduced. The two young attacking players added a new dimension to England’s game that Sterling Alli failed to produce. Both worked well in the attacking third and force Tunisia to defend tighter. But England would leave it to the 91st minute to get the job done. It seems like set-pieces, particularly corners, seems to be England’s strength as Harry Kane (again) got the second touch from a corner and headed home McGuire’s wayward header. England wrapped up three points in a frustrating opening fixture. The England captain led from the front, led by example, and ensured that his team stayed with Belgium at the top of the group.
England, oh England. Must you always do this? Why do you keep playing with our hearts tournament after tournament? Can’t we get some 4-0’s or 5-0’s every once in a while? Supporting England is like a real-life roller-coaster… just more downs than ups. I really hope that England do make it far this year. To start, out of the group stages would be nice. But this team really has the potential to be something great; they just need time and the right management team around them, and I think they have that with Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland.
Well, we’re almost through with the first round of fixtures in this year’s World Cup. It’s been was quite a ride so far, hasn’t it? The remaining fixtures will conclude tomorrow with Colombia playing Japan and 2002 heroes, Senegal, up against Poland.
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