Despite enjoying long spells of domination in the first half, the Three Lions had to rely on a last-gasp Harry Kane strike to clinch all three favorites.
It all came down to a glancing header. Despite all the chances they created in the first half – and they created lots of them – it was a Harry Kane header which gave England the victory it deserved against a resolute Tunisia side.
The Three Lions dominated the game for long spells but their profligacy in front of goal ensured to take much credit away from an otherwise excellent performance by the 1966 World Cup champions.
Here are the 5 talking points from the game …
1- Harry Kane the Star Performer
Coming into the World Cup, Harry Kane had taken offense with the criticism leveled at him by sections of English media. However, as his performance here showed, the English captain was totally unfazed by the criticism.
Two goals, the first of which was a tap-in with the other a winner, made sure Harry Kane silenced all his critics in brilliant fashion.
Therefore, while he is not yet in the league of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the Tottenham forward could become as important to his team as both these superstars.
2- The Hard Way For England
England got lucky. Wasteful in front of goal. Shaky in defense. They will have to improve for the next 2 games.
— Three out of Ten Hag 🇺🇦 (@SoccerCTC) June 19, 2018
Although England fans weren’t expecting it any other way – as they are all too aware of the recent failings in big competitions of their team – the way England outplayed Tunisia in the opening spells of the game suggested that this could be an easy night for the Three Lions.
However, thanks to their wastefulness in front of goals and some questionable refereeing, England once again followed the hard way to get three points.
3- Jordan Henderson Was Brilliant
Henderson speaking as well as he played. Top class tonight. Fully justified the decision to pick him ahead of Dier.
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) June 18, 2018
It wasn’t as if Henderson had a point to prove in this game. After all, it was only a month ago that his captained Liverpool side reached the UEFA Champions League final. Still, to silence the pockets of fans who still doubt his ability, the Liverpool skipper showed his class yet again today.
He was commanding on the ball, industrious with it, with some of his cross-field passes absolutely sublime. Gone now are the sideways passes which earned him the ridicule of fans in the yesteryears. Now, Henderson knows how to propel his team forward. And in an English side which lacks big names on its team sheet, Henderson could become one come July.
4- Kyle Walker Can Play Better
Say what you will about it being a soft penalty to award, but Kyle Walker is utterly brainless to put his arm out like that. Needless.
— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) June 18, 2018
With England cruising and looking as if they would put the game to bed even before halftime, it was a moment of madness from Kyle Walker on the 33rd-minute mark which got Tunisia back into the game. His needless swing of an elbow to block Ben Yousseff gave Tunisia the penalty they ill-deserved, which the North-African side slotted him to get on level terms.
Still, since these are early days in the World Cup, Kyle Walker would get the chance to display his true importance to the English side. Otherwise, provided he doesn’t, the prodigious Trent Arnold is waiting in the wings for his chance.
5- Lingard Should Justify His Inclusion Vs Panama
Lingard must be approaching some kind of all-time record for missed chances in a World Cup game? #ENGvsTUN
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 18, 2018
If you are the reason that Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford are on the bench then you ought to play much better than Jesse Lingard against Tunisia. And it isn’t as if he doesn’t know how to grasp the big occasion, as Lingard has shown with his goals for Manchester United in cup finals.
Here in Russia, however, how final touch betrayed him. Right from the second minute, when he allowed the Tunisian keeper to save with his legs, Lingard’s ice-cold composure was nowhere to be seen. Still, just like Walker, Lingard could make sure to justify his inclusion against Panama this coming Sunday.