Harry Kane was England’s hero in a tough game against Tunisia in their Group G opener at the World Cup, with the Three Lions skipper netting twice to deny the Eagles of Carthage after their first half penalty from Ferjani Sassi.
After a long wait England were finally ready to kick off their 2018 World Cup campaign, with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions hoping to kick off their Group G campaign in a positive manner with a view to outdoing 2014’s poor performance whereby they exited at the group stage, the bottom of the group
The early chance of the match fell England’s way with a flurry of shots culminating in an opportunity for Jesse Lingard; although his shot was cleared for a corner by Tunisia’s goalkeeper, Mouez Hassen.
The subsequent corner came incredibly close to finding the net and, quickly following that, an electric England counter fell to Raheem Sterling who scuffed the ball wide of an open goal. Although, luckily for the Manchester City man, his miss didn’t matter as the play was ruled offside.
Throughout the opening 10 minutes England were certainly imposing themselves as a dominant force, and their overwhelming quality paid off with a goal for Harry Kane. The Three Lions skipper closing down a parried save from Hassen as a result of a powerful John Stones header and poking the ball home to make it 1-0.
Shortly following the goal the Eagles of Carthage suffered yet another setback with goalkeeper Hassen needing to be replaced after sustaining a shoulder injury; the injured Nice shot stopper being replaced by Farouk Ben Mustapha.
Ben Mustapha found his team in need of his services not long after entering the field with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson trying his luck from distance, his effort being well saved by the Tunisia substitute.
Tunisia’s first real opportunity came on the 23rd minute however, Wahbi Khazri’s corner came to nothing and England were able to launch a counter. Despite being given an excellent opportunity to double their lead, Lingard was unable to connect with a sumptuous Ashley Young cross to the back post, with the ball bouncing out for a goal kick.
Following an extended period of England dominance, Tunisia were awarded a penalty against the run of play. After a VAR inspection, the referee was given the green light to award the penalty, Kyle Walker being the culprit after elbowing the Tunisia forward.
Stepping up for the Eagles of Carthage was Ferjani Sassi, and the 26-year-old midfielder was only just able to convert his spot kick to make it 1-1, the ball just about eluding Jordan Pickford’s outstretched arm.
England came close to restoring their lead instantly following a Kieran Trippier free kick, although the Three Lions were unable to convert, passing up a series of incredibly inviting opportunities to retake the lead.
Trippier’s service throughout the first half had been impeccable, with a free kick from the Tottenham man dropping to Lingard, although the England man’s effort was deflected out for a corner.
As the half time interval drew ever closer, England’s chances at regaining the lead started to come in rapid succession. Lingard once again found himself in a favourable position and, despite beating the keeper, his shot trickled against the post before rolling out of play.
When the half time whistle finally went it was Tunisia that would be feeling more content with their position as, despite England’s overwhelming dominance, the scoreline belied the two side’s performances at 1-1.
Following the restart it was Tunisia who were able to enjoy the lions share of the possession, although the first big chance of the half feel to Harry Maguire as he met a Trippier corner with a header, although the Leicester City man’s effort was comfortably saved by Ben Mustapha.
As the game reached the hour mark, England had nothing to show for their dominance as, despite their control over the game, they had nothing to show for their ongoing efforts to breach the Tunisia defence.
After a long period of tedium and frustration, England were given a scoring opportunity in the form of a free kick just before the 70 minute mark. Trippier opted to shoot from distance although his effort was wide of the goal.
With England’s early momentum gradually fizzling out, the Three Lions were awarded an enticing free kick from a little over 20 yards out. Manchester United full back, Young, opted to take the shot, although his effort sailed comfortably over the bar, letting Tunisia off the hook once again.
Working in overdrive to earn back their lead, Marcus Rashford, introduced in place of Sterling, worked his way into the box with a clever bit of skill, although his subsequent cross was blocked and deflected out for a corner, from which, the Eagles of Carthage were awarded a free kick.
After a half of frustration, a golden chance fell to Rashford following a ball from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, although the young forward watched the ball roll by and Lingard squandered the opportunity once the ball came to him.
Following a disheartening second half performance, with the Three Lions being subdued for much of the second period, Southgate’s men were finally able to break through the Tunisia defence in injury time, with a Trippier corner finding Kane in space at the back post.