Harry Kane showed that he was more than deserving of the captain's armband on Monday afternoon as his brace lifted England to a 2-1 win over Tunisia in Group G play, his second coming in stoppage time to provide a dramatic winner:
Captain Kane comes through for England in stoppage time! pic.twitter.com/g27zfflL6e— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 18, 2018
The European side might have deserved a more emphatic victory given their domination when it came to attacking play, but there was plenty of problems figuring out that final ball to take Tunisia out of the match early.
Instead, a puzzling challenge by Kyle Walker awarded the underdogs with a penalty that they went on to convert that looked as though it would be good enough to salvage a point.
England manager Gareth Southgate brought one of the most inexperienced sides his country has ever put forth at a World Cup, which created low expectations for a country that has been yearning for a title since 1966.
The young squad didn't show any sort of reservations on the grandest stage in soccer, getting off to a flying start as the dynamic, attacking Three Lions immediately had Tunisia on the back foot.
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A pair of chances was brilliantly denied by Mouez Hassen including a save from close range on Jesse Lingard with his foot while falling to his right in the third minute. In the process though, he picked up a shoulder injury and attempted to soldier on.
While his level of play did not diminish, he was beaten in the 11th minute after making a brilliant save off a John Stones header via a corner, but the ball was parried right into the path of a lurking Harry Kane, who easily slotted home the rebound:
What a start for the Three Lions!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 18, 2018
Harry Kane taps it home to put England up 1-0 early against Tunisia. pic.twitter.com/vTrhvCGam6
Hassen could not carry on any longer as he was subbed out in the 15th minute for Farouk Ben Mustapha, which looked as though it would allow England to coast to victory.
But Tunisia settled and began to pressure the young England side before defender Kyle Walker needlessly fouled Fakhreddine Ben Youssef in the box to award Tunisia with a penalty. Up stepped Ferjani Stassi in the 35th minute, who placed his penalty just out of the reach of an outstretched Jordan Pickford:
Tunisia equalizes!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 18, 2018
Kyle Walker gives away a penalty and Sassi converts to make it 1-1. pic.twitter.com/LKAWUsZEWR
England ramped up the attacking play and began monopolizing chances once again. The problem was it left its finishing boots in the locker room. John Stones shanked a left-footed shot off a scramble in front following a set piece before Lingard's deft touch off a long ball rolled under Ben Mustapha but hit the post and rolled out of play.
The second half was nothing more than missed opportunities as England continued to misfire, that was until Kane's heroics at the death to deliver England with its first win at a World Cup opener since 2006.
While England is still looking up at Belgium in Group G, it immediately puts them in the driver's seat to move on to the knockout stages as the Three Lions prepare for a meeting with North American minnows Panama on Sunday.