Harry Kane continued his remarkable record of scoring in every game as captain after he fired England to a 2-0 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener on Monday.
Tunisia 1 England 2
Kane (11′) breaks deadlock with tap-in
Khazri sees shot deflected wide
Sassi (35′) equalises from the spot
Kane (89′) pounces at the back post
Kane netted either side of a Ferjani Sassi penalty at the at the Volgograd Arena to give Gareth Southgate’s side a winning start in Group G.
The Tottenham striker opened the scoring early on and stole all three points in the last minute of the game with another predatory finish.
The Three Lions have an unbeaten record against African opposition at the tournament and they started like a house on fire. Jordan Henderson, one of only two survivors from Brazil 2014 in the starting XI alongside Raheem Sterling, started their first attack.
The Liverpool midfielder dinked a pass over the top for Dele Alli, who won back possession from Dylan Bronn, and the ball fell perfectly for Jesse Lingard, he shot low but was denied by a brilliant reaction save from Mouez Hassen.
England needed just six minutes more to break the deadlock. Hassen made another amazing save when he clawed a John Stones header out from a corner, but Kane was in the right place at the right time as he tapped home from close range on the rebound.
They almost shot themselves in the foot two minutes before the half-hour mark. Harry Maguire was caught in possession by Syam Ben Youssef, but his square ball was cut out by Kyle Walker with Wahbi Khazri lurking.
However, the Eagles of Carthage were back in the contest 10 minutes before the break. It was the first goal for an African nation at Russia 2018 and it came against the run of play, controversially too.
Walker was judged to have elbowed Ben Youssef inside the box and referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot without hesitation. The incident was reviewed by the VAR, but the decision stood and Walker was shown a yellow card.
Sassi made no mistake from the spot as he placed the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net, just out of Jordan Pickford’s reach.
The second half started much the same as the first, with the English pinning the Tunisians back inside their own half.
With Hassen forced off through injury, substitute keeper Ben Mustapha was called to action and produced a stunning display. Seven minutes after the restart, Kieran Trippier’s corner was headed on target by Maguire, but Mustapha dived to his right to make the save.
The Three Lions continued to dominate possession but Tunisia managed the game well and continued to unsettle them at every opportunity.
But just when the match appeared to be heading for a draw, up popped Kane at the far post to snatch victory at the death. Trippier’s corner from the right was flicked on by Maguire to the far post, where Kane was perfectly positioned to power in a header.