England kick started their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Tunisia. It was not going to be an easy game for Gareth Southgate’s men as Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul set his team out to sit back, park the bus and settle for a draw by letting England come at them and attack hoping to catch them on the counter.
We were almost given the perfect start when Jesse Lingard saw his effort saved superbly by the Tunisian goalkeeper in the 3rd minute with many of us expecting that ball to end up in the back of the net.
It wasn’t until the 10th minute that England’s constant pressure was rewarded when John Stones goalbound headed effort from a corner was saved brilliantly once more by the Tunisian goalkeeper only for Harry Kane to use his poacher's instinct to capitalise on the parried effort to score his first World Cup goal.
Raheem Sterling had the easiest chance of the game when Lingard squared the ball to him rather than opting to go with his favored right foot he decided to go with his left making a real hash of it and sending his shot wide.
Lingard again found himself round the back managing to knock the ball round the goalkeeper only for his effort to hit the post and go wide.
The pressure seemed too much for the Tunisians who when pressed by the England players found it uncomfortable on the ball losing the possession on many occasions with passes going astray.
But in the 35th minute England were made to pay for their missed chances when Kyle Walker was adjudged to have elbowed the opposing attacker in the box giving away a penalty which Jordan Pickford was unlucky not to keep out having managed to get only fingertips to the effort.
It was a controversial decision made by the referee as he opted not to go to VAR to investigate the incident further which we was told this is what VAR was for to make sure of Penalty decisions. If the referee was sure that Walker used his arm in the face of the opposition then surely it was a red card incident, which fortunately for us he only received a yellow.
When VAR was introduced we were on the understanding that it was to help referees with incidents that they may not have been aware of. But we were left frustrated when the referee refused to use VAR when Kane was rugby tackled to ground by the Tunisian defence in the box not once but twice. Both occasions the referee did not use VAR.
Surely those in the VAR control room spotted these incidents and should have explained to the referee he should review the evidence. Not only was the lack of VAR used by the referee frustrating for England but the referee failed to act professionally when a Tunisian player went down after being struck by a football in the stomach, unless there is a head injury the referee should not have bought the game to a halt.
Approaching the closing stages of the game, England were awarded a free kick which a Tunisian player was blocking the ball preventing it being taken which the referee failed to act on only telling the player to move away but the player did not move 10 yards which the England players were furious about only for the referee to still fail to act. Had that been an England player would we have seen a card being brandished? My thoughts are we would have.
But even all these decisions going against us, even with the Tunisians trying to slow the game down and time waste, in the 91st minute, Kane snuck in at the back post from Harry Maguire’s flick to head home the winner and secure a well deserved 2-1 victory and 3 points in the bag. We could say that when the final whistle was blown justice was served.
We go again on Sunday against Panama, as long as we stick to the same game plan and attack the opposition we should managed to claim all 3 points which will effectively see us through to the knockout stages. We need to take our chances more clinically and we should be there.
A few changes might be needed in my opinion, first of those would be Danny Rose in for Ashley Young and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in for Dele Alli. We should also try and get Jamie Vardy involved who can get in behind those defenders.
Another thing to look at would be Kane shouldn’t be playing so deep, as a front man he should be up there poaching and doing what he does best - score goals.