Viet Nam News
RUSSIA — An early goal and an injury-time header from captain Harry Kane gave England a 2-1 victory against Tunisia in their opening World Cup game in Group G on Monday.
England, playing a 3-5-2 formation, launched fast attacks from the very beginning, making attempts at the goal two times within the first five minutes.
In the 11th minute, Kane broke the deadlock. Ashley Young swung in a corner from the left and John Stones nutted a header towards the top-left corner.
Tunisia’s goalkeeper Mouez Hassen clawed the ball out only to push it to Kane, who crisply tapped the rebound home.
Just three minutes after England’s goal, Tunisia’s goalkeeper Mouez Hassen was forced off by injury and Farouk Ben Mustapha replaced him.
Tunisian did not have their first chance until the 26th minute. Ferjani Sassi flashed a shot wildly across goal.
A penalty was awarded to Tunisia in the 33rd minute as England defender Kyle Walker pushed Fakhreddine Ben Youssef down in the box.
After two minutes Ferjani Sassi struck the penalty into the bottom right corner to level the score.
Despite England players’ continuous fierce attacks, they failed to score in the rest of the first half.
Admitting that England "played really well" during the first 45 minutes, Harry Kane also thought England should have seized more opportunities.
"In the first half, it felt good out there. We could’ve scored two or three goals in the first half and put the game to bed early," he said.
Paces slowed down in second half and England created a few chances. However, the efforts of the Three Lions didn’t pay off in face of a strong Tunisian defense. England got a free kick opportunity in the 79th minute while Ashley Young’s shot went over the bar.
In the 91 minute, Kane scored his second of the game with a well-placed header from close range which made England seal the victory.
The England captain hailed his teammates’ performance.
"We are proud of each other and in a World Cup you are not sure how it is going to go, but we have a great togetherness and are always proud to see it come off in the game. We never panicked, never looked like conceding another one and got what we deserved in the end," he said.
Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul expressed his disappointment on the last-minute goal from England.
"If we were to get a draw it would have been an excellent result for us," he said. "But hopefully this will lead to higher levels of concentration in the coming games."
FIFA statistics showed that England made 17 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Tunisia made 6.
Ball possession was 60 per cent for England and 40 per cent for Tunisia. Tunisia’s goalscorer Sassi thought his team deserved better result.
"We played a good match defensively. We played with five in defense during the second half which helped us to close the spaces. We will do everything against Belgium to win the three points," he said.
Monday’s match marks the two teams’ second clash at World Cup which a total of 41,064 spectators attended at the 45,000-seat Volgograd Arena. Tunisia will play against Belgium in their next game on June 23 while England will take on Panama one day later. — XINHUA