Harry Kane fires England to dramatic, and deserved, World Cup victory over Tunisia

Monday 18 Jun 2018
England's Harry Kane is mobbed after his late winner over Tunisia

Heroic Harry

Three Lions captain Harry Kane fired England to victory with a brace in their World Cup opener with Tunisia in Volgograd. After scoring just 11 minutes into his debut on this stage, his crucial second came in the dying stages to give England the three points and a winning start in Russia. A corner from Kane’s Tottenham team-mate Kieran Trippier was flicked on by Harry Maguire towards the far post where the striker swivelled to guide a header home and send the nation happy. 

Tunisia 1-2 England
  • 2018 FIFA World Cup
  • Group H
  • Monday 18 June 2018
  • Volgograd Arena, Russia
  • Live on BBC

England’s electric start

The Three Lions were quickly out of the traps in Volgograd, and made an electric start to the game before Kane put England ahead with his first senior World Cup goal. Both Jesse Lingard and Maguire were denied by smart saves from Tunisia’s keeper Mouez Hassan in the first ten minutes as Gareth Southgate’s men were looking lively. And they were rewarded in the 11th minute when Ashley Young’s corner was met by a flying header from John Stones. Hassan made an equally impressive save, but it was swept home from close range by Kane to get England up and running.

Sassi's spot-kick

After finding England too hot to handle at times in the opening exchanges, Tunisia found some encouragement midway through the first half. Ferjani Sassi had already seen a shot diverted wide after Maguire and Walker had lost possession in a dangerous area, and the ES Tunis man didn’t miss a second chance to equalise soon after that when he calmly slotted home from the penalty spot after Walker inoccuously upended Fakreddine Ben Youssef in the box. It was against the run of play, but gave Tunisia something to hold on to.

John Stones leaps to head goalwards in the build-up to England's opening goal

VAR viewpoint

The topic of VAR is one that has already proved a hot topic in Russia and there were a couple of occasions when England could have done with a little aid from the sidelines. If there were no real complaints about the spot-kick conceded by Walker for the Tunisia equaliser, then England had legitimate questions why quite how Kane being held and wrestled in the area after that and then again early in the second half didn’t warrant a penalty.

Second-half shut out

Despite England dominating possession and territory after the break, they found themselves frustrated by a well-drilled, determined and often niggly team desperately trying to cling on to a point. Southgate has often spoken in the build-up to the World Cup about the tournament experience and know-how required by his charges, and this was the sort of situation from which they will learn and improve from. England not only got the win which they deserved, but the squad will also head back to base in Repino with valuable experience under their belts.

The Three Lions' starting line-up on Monday night for the game against Tunisia

The Teams

England: 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 5 John Stones (Manchester City), 6 Harry Maguire (Leicester City), 12 Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), 18 Ashley Young (Manchester United), 7 Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) (c), 10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), 20 Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur).

Substitutes: 19 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) for Sterling 69, 21 Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) for Alli 80, 4 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur) for Lingard 90+2

Substitutes not used: 3 Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), 11 Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), 13 Jack Butland (Stoke City), 14 Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), 15 Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 16 Phil Jones (Manchester United), 17 Fabian Delph (Manchester City), 22 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), 23 Nick Pope (Burnley)

Goals: Harry Kane 11, 90+1

Cautions: Kyle Walker 34

Manager: Gareth Southgate

Tunisia: 22 Mouez Hassen, 2 Syam Ben Youssef, 4 Yassine Meriah, 8 Fakreddine Ben Youssef, 9 Anice Badri, 10 Wahbi Khazri (c), 11 Dylan Bronn, 12 Ali Maaloul, 13 Ferjani Sassi, 17 Ellyes Skhiri, 23 Naim Sliti.

Substitutes: 1 Farouk Ben Mustapha for Hassen 15, 14 Mohamed Ben Amor for Sliti 74, 19 Saber Khalifa for Khazri 85

Substitutes not used: 3 Yohan Ben Alouane, 5 Oussama Haddadi, 6 Rami Bedoui, 7 Saifeddine Khaoui, 15 Ahmed Khalil, 16 Aymen Mathlouthi, 18 Bassem Srarfi, 20 Ghaylen Chaaleli, 21 Hamdi Naguez

Coach: Maaloul Nabil

Goals: Ferjani Sassi 31

Cautions: N/A

Attendance: 40,164

By Nicholas Veevers