In Group G of the FIFA World Cup, England took a hard-earned 2-1 victory over a tough Tunisia squad to open their campaign with maximum points.
Both teams fought to the limit throughout 90 minutes and it took an injury-time goal from Harry Kane in order to seal the victory for the Three Lions.
The result puts England in second place and only behind Belgium due to inferior goal difference.
Here are some points to take away after the clash at Volgograd Arena.
ENGLAND STARTED THE GAME STRONG
As expected, England clearly showed their talent over their opponents early in the game. They were constantly threatening and had Tunisia on their heels most of the time.
The Three Lions could have grabbed the lead early if Jesse Lingard’s attempt but goalkeeper Mouez Hassan was able to effectively stick a foot out to save the shot from going past the line.
Effective link-ups by Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Lingard constantly attacked and had chances to give their team the lead on occasions.
Their constant pressure eventually paid off as Harry Kane drew first blood in the 11th minute after a set-piece saw John Stones head the ball only to be stopped by Hassan, but the ever-opportunistic Kane was in the right place at the right time to slot the ball home.
BETTER FORM THAN USUAL
In addition to their exciting first half, one thing that has to be given credit is England’s form during the first 45 minutes.
Coach Gareth Southgate has been effective in transforming England from a team full of star individuals into a cohesive unit.
The players were constantly moving and were always passing the ball around, baffling the Tunisia defence in the process.
They were very tactical in their approach and were effective in dismantling the resistance as the Three Lions barged inside the box.
If only they would have converted on more chances early in the game then the tie would have been put to bed early.
TUNISIA SUFFERED WITH THE EARLY INJURY
Keeper Hassen injured his shoulder early in the game after going down to make a save. He tried to play on but it was clear that he had a problem and had to be substituted off.
This resulted in Tunisia going for their back-up, Farouk Ben Mustapha, who had to quickly warm up before facing off against a potent English attack.
While he was a capable keeper, Tunisia’s tactics had to be changed immediately as they had one less substitute and had their top goal stopper out due to injury.
Despite eventually levelling the score, coach Nabil Maaloul was unable to try and push for a winner as he had only two substitutions left and he made his first one in the 74th as he brought in a midfielder to take out a striker.
EFFECTIVENESS OF VIDEO ASSISTANCE REFEREE (VAR) STILL IN LIMBO
Many are on the fence with VAR and there have been already a few times it was used in the World Cup.
In this clash between England and Tunisia, VAR helped the latter team win a penalty after England defender Kyle Walker stuck an arm out to hinder Ben Youssef from moving inside the box.
VAR confirmed the penalty and the corresponding spot kick levelled the score, showing the importance of the piece of technology to help get the correct call.
However, later on in the game, Kane also appeared to be fouled inside the box when England had a set-piece. The Spurs man was sent to the ground when the ball flew in the box and VAR should have been used to review if there was a foul.
It was not called by the referee and play continued despite Kane being fouled. During these times, VAR should be used to ensure all the right infractions are called.