England started their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win against Tunisia last night. After taking the lead early on courtesy of Harry Kane, England were pegged back due to a controversial penalty decision. Kyle Walker was adjudged to have struck Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with a frailing arm. England grew frustrated by Tunisia’s gamesmanship and physicality as the game drew to a close. Finally, in second half stoppage time, England got the winner they deserved. Harry Kane directed in a Maguire flick on from a corner to ensure that England got all three points in their group opener.
Here are 5 talking points from yesterday’s game…
The implementation of VAR
Whilst VAR has been the saving grace at times in the competition, yesterday’s game between England and Tunisia highlighted some faults of the system. Just after the referee’s controversial decision to give Tunisia a penalty, Harry Kane was wrestled to the ground. Somehow it was deemed not to be a penalty by the referee – and VAR -despite it being more clear cut than the Tunisian penalty. This was a very clear error from the VAR system that, to be fair, has been good for the majority of the tournament so far. The inconsistency surrounding VAR is proof enough that it isn’t yet ready to be used in the Premier League. The glaring errors it made throughout yesterday’s game shows that VAR is still far from the finished article with its inconsistency a huge problem.
England were extremely wasteful last night, missing several chances to extend their lead when the scorelinewas 1-0. Raheem Sterling missed a sitter and Jesse Lingard also missed several chances to extend the lead. Tunisia were not threatening at any point during the game and were flattered by their equaliser. The African side managed to keep the scoreline level until late on when Harry Kane’s tap-in from close range broke Tunisian hearts.
Harry Kane the hero
Kane didn’t have too many chances on Monday night, it wasn’t his best performance, yet he still came away with two goals to his name. In the right place at the tight time for both goals and calm collected finishes from the Tottenham and England striker won England the game.If anything, the one problem is that Harry Kane was the only player in the England side capable of finishing brilliant opportunities as last night. The Three Lions were poor in front of goal. Kane has now scored in his last four games for the Three Lions: brilliant from the new England captain
Changes for the next game?
Dele Alli appeared to be struggling with a thigh injury throughout the game and might be doubtful for Sunday’s game against Panama after having a scan today. Ruben Loftus-Cheek performed extremely well when he came off the bench so he may be the preferred replacement should Alli be unavailable. Danny Rose may also be preferred at left-back after an unconvincing performance by Ashley Young.
England might go far!
Though last night’s performance was far from exhilarating from the Three Lions and a win was the expected outcome, this England side has potential of getting very far in this competition. Germany losing to Mexico on Sunday has changed things for England and finishing second in the group may turn out to be the best option with the route to the final a lot easier, should Germany finish second. Southgate’s tactics have shown that they are able to deal with big sides with good defensive performances against Brazil and Germany in friendlies earlier on in the year.