England 2 Tunisia 1: Harry Kane’s last-gasp header rescues Three Lions after night of frustration in Volgograd


HARRY KANE is just too damn good.

England’s captain scored two, directing a 91st minute winner beyond Tunisia’s stand-in keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha in this Group G opener.

England celebrate their dream start to the World Cup after Harry Kane’s opener

Jordan Pickford punched the air after England deservedly took the lead

What a way to do it, stooping at the far post to meet Harry Maguire’s fick-on before setting off in search of England’s travelling fans.

He never got anywhere near them.

Instead he was dragged back by his team-mates, tugging at his red shirt and leaping on top of him in honour of their skipper.

This, unquestionably, was a captain’s performance.

Harry Kane rescued England with his cool, composed header

England fans were thrilled with their side’s flying start in Volgograd

It brought back memories of Captain Marvel, the sort of match-winning qualities England relied on when Bryan Robson wore that armband.

Different positions on the pitch, but inspirational figures all the same.

Kane got the winner when England needed something, lifting a nation when everybody else was out of ideas.

The forward, who has scored in every game he has worn that captain’s armband for England, responded.

Harry Kane led by example with his 11th-minute poacher’s effort

They are up and running.

Injury-time winners can be ruinous and fortuitous, but frankly nobody will care too much for Tunisia.

This turned into England’s night.

To win this, when they had been denied penalties in each half for fouls on Kane by the haphazard refereeing of Colombian Wilmar Roldan, shows guts and determination. Good on them for that.

When they were pegged back, conceding a stupid penalty when Kyle Walker gave Tunisia forward Ben Youssef a shove in the first half, they needed something special to win it.

It came, eventually.

There had been so much to celebrate about this England performance, especially when Kane got them going after just 11 minutes.

Early days, for sure, but they were a joy to watch for half an hour.

There was so much promise, with players feeding off the adrenaline and enthusiasm of a World Cup.

They have been in Russia for the best part of a week, but played like they belonged on the world’s biggest stage.

England deserve a pat on the back for that.

Until Tunisia equalised, they were in charge of this opening group game. Everybody thought they were on to a good thing.

There was so much to get excited about.

Kane’s goal, England’s passing, the tempo, the cohesion, the solidarity among these boys.

This should have had this sewn up long before Kane’s late winner.

He clearly should have had a penalty in the first half when left-back Ali Maaloul dragged the striker back by his shirt.

After the break, Yassine Mariah got away with another when he flung his arms around Kane’s neck.

Tunisia celebrate their equaliser to frustrate England

To his credit, he kept going.

He had his first goal by then, despatching his first tournament goal beyond Tunisia keeper Mouez Hassen after 11 minutes.

All that pent up frustration, the eagerness, all that anxiety, went when England’s captain put the ball into the net.

They were looking at a top class performance here, a polished, powerful and purposeful display in their opening group game.

The rest of the world world was on alert.

There was structure, a very obvious pattern of play and a confidence about them.

Nobody here thought they could possibly settle for one.

Harry Kane was the hero at the death for England at Volgograd

If they had scored four, five or even more, it would have been about right.

Raheem Sterling, picked to play in this creative role behind Kane, could have tucked a couple of early chances away.

Hassen saved his first effort three minutes in, with the Tunisia keeper making a recovery to divert Jesse Lingard’s rebound away with his legs.

This was a fast, fluid England start.

They got their goal when John Stones met Ashley Young’s corner after 11 minutes in, with Kane on target after Hassen’s initial save.

Tunisia were wobbling, with their keeper forced off with a shoulder injury after 15 minutes.

Farouk Ben Mustapha, his replacement, looked like he would be in for a busy night.

Jordan Henderson tested him immediately, hoping for the best when he sent a yorker straight at his toes. He kept that one out.

Lingard missed another chance midway through the half, failing to get a connection when the ball failed to sit up for him at the back post.

The big test, the penalty awarded to Tunisia, was next for this young, inexperienced England side.

Kyle Walker knew that Fakhreddine Ben Youseff was behind him, giving him a little dig when the England defender knew he would miss out on the header. It was soft, but it was enough.

Ferjani Sassi scored, beating Jordan Pickford with a 35rd minute penalty arrowing away to his right.

England responded, with yet another effort hitting the base of the post when the England forward cleverly flicked the ball over the keeper.

They fell away the second half, running out of ideas after all that early optimism.

Southgate made changes, with Marcus Rashford on for Sterling and Ruben Loftus-Cheek providing some more attacking impetus when he replaced Dele Alli.

Rashford, scorer of that belting goal against Costa Rica at Elland Road, added pace to the front-line. England needed it.

They finished the game with five up front every time they were on the ball, throwing men forward in search of another goal.

Incredibly it came in injury time, when Maguire met Kieran Trippier’s outswinging corner to send a downward header into Kane.

After that, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

By Socceruncle
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