All hail 'HurriKane'. The England skipper scores a double as his side eek out a 2-1 win against Tunisia in their first encounter of World Cup 2018. For most parts of the match, it seemed a draw was imminent. But in the first minute of stoppage time, Kane headed home the winner, much to the delight of Gareth Southgate and England fans.
England made a fast start to the game, and took a deserved lead in the 11th minute. Despite having much of the ball and chances, they couldn't increase on their lead. And Tunisia made them pay.
In the 34th minute, Walker was penalized, and Tunisia got a penalty. Up stepped Sassi, and equalized for his side. From there on, it seemed the same old story for England. But in stoppage time, Kane had his say.
FULL TIME: Tunisia 1-2 England
90' + 3': Final change by England as they waste a precious few seconds. Lingard departs, and on comes Dier to add steel in the defense.
90' + 1': GOAL! HURRIKANE scores again. England get a corner, which is whipped in by Trippier. Maguire wins the header, and puts the ball in the path of Kane. The England skipper has an easy task of placing the ball beyond the keeper.
90': Four minutes have been added on, as England desperately search for the winner.
85': Tunisia make their second change. Skipper Khazri is the one to go, and he is replaced by Khalifa.
83': Corner for England! Rashford gets one on one with the full back on the left side, but the defender gets his teammates help. Resulting corner is taken by Young, but goalkeeper is quick to react and punch it. In the process, he gets knocked off by Stones.
80': Second substitution for England. Loftus Cheek replaces Alli.
79': Young with the effort, but it's not good enough!
78': Free kick for England in a very dangerous position, after Alli was knocked off. Young is standing over it.
73': First change for Tunisia. Sliti is taken off. Ben Amor comes in his place.
72': Tunisia play some exciting football near the halfway line, and it results in space for Sliti through the middle. The No.23 takes three touches, before unleashing an effort, which is well wide.
69': England get a free kick 30 yards out. Trippier is over it, and takes it, but his effort sails well wide.
68': First change of the night made by England. Sterling makes way for Rashford.
66': Brilliant cross from Henderson, but no one reaches the end of it. The No.8 plays a great ball in the box, and the closest to it is Maguire, who made a surging run.
60': What a pass from Henderson! The Liverpool midfielder gets the ball near the halfway line, and pings a brilliant crossfield ball to Trippier. The full back tries to cross. but it's deflected out for a corner.
58': Both the teams have dropped their intensity, and it seems whoever scores the second goal will win the match. Kudos to Tunisia for not sitting back, and playing an attacking brand of football against a much better opponent.
51': Corner for England after Tunisia's player hits a poor back pass towards his keeper. The resulting delivery is taken by Trippier, and Alli heads it straight at the keeper.
47': Free kick for England in their own half after Henderson is tripped. Prior to that, Tunisia strung in numerous passes together, without getting close to the England goal.
AND THE ACTION BEGINS AGAIN
Arguably the most entertaining first half we have witnessed this whole tournament. England have been all over Tunisia, but head into the break equal. They dominated the proceedings, and took a deserved lead through Kane. It could, and should have been 3 or 4, but some poor finishing and good goalkeeping didn't let that happen. And England were punished for it. A controversial penalty was awarded to Tunisia, and Sassi made no mistake and equalized.
HALF TIME: Tunisia 1-1 England
45': Three minutes added, much due to the injury to Hassen and the penalty decision.
44': Off the post! Trippier plays a ball over the Tunisian defense. Lingard is there, and he beats the onrushing goalkeeper. His shot though, hits the outside of the post and goes out.
43': Another chance for England! Another free kick is put in the box, and Maguire again meets it. He heads the ball towards Lingard, whose shot is blocked for a corner.
39': How did that not go in! Free kick for England on the left, which is taken by Young. He puts a deep delivery, and Maguire helps it back into the box. A scrambling Tunisia defense just about keeps the ball out as it was creeping inside. Also, shouts of penalty by England for grab on Kane.
35': GOAL! Sassi takes the responsibility for the spot kick. And he doesn't disappoint. He went to his left. Pickford guessed it correctly, and got his hands to it, but couldn't keep it out.
33': PENALTY FOR TUNISIA! They have a spell of possession inside the England's half. A cross comes in from the right side, where Walker is seen with his arms in an unnatural position, blocking Badri. He receives a yellow card for the offense
30': Free kick for England on the left side. Trippier comes and takes it. He puts a ball deep to the far post, where Maguire is tussling with a defender. His effort is straight at the keeper.
27': Corner for Tunisia! A lot of hassling for the ball goes around the England penalty box, but in the end, it lands to a Tunisian player. He takes an effort from range, but it is deflected wide by Maguire.
24': Lingard misses a sitter! Young puts a tremendous cross to the far post, where Lingard is left completely unmarked. But the No.7 inexplicably misses the target.
22': Corner for Tunisia. Great pace shown by their No.11 Bronn, as he picks the ball in his own half and charges towards the opposition penalty area.
18': Henderson with an effort, and it's saved! England are all over Tunisia. A great play down the right means Trippier is free. He cuts back the ball in the box, but finds none of his teammate. A tensed Tunisia defense half clears, and the ball reaches to Henderson, whose first time is effort is straight at Mustafa.
15': A teary Hassen is heading off, and look at how disappointed he is. Ben Mustafa is set to come in his place!
13': It seems game over for Hassen! He has been in discomfort since the 5th minute, and the save of Stones has only worsened his situation.
11': GOAL! Kane has given England the lead. Young takes the corner, and Stones meets it with a powerful header. The keeper makes a tremendous save, but Kane is there for a tap in!
10': It's been all England in the first 10 minutes. And another chance for them. Kane has an effort from 25 yards out, but is deflected out for a corner.
7': That's an alleged elbow by Young, which goes unnoticed by the referee. The Tunisia players and manager are fuming at the officials for failing to spot it. Young is a lucky boy!
4': Shocking miss by Sterling, but its offside anyway! England are ripping apart Tunisia defense in the early moments. A great ball is played Lingard, who is the offside culprit. He doesn't know, and puts the ball in plate for Sterling. But shockingly, he misses with an open goal in front. Wouldn't have counted though!
3': How did that not go in! A delicious ball from Henderson over the top finds Alli, whose low pass in the box is not dealt at all well by the defense. The Tottenham midfielder then nicks the ball of the defender's feet, and it reaches Lingard. His low effort is somehow, unbelievably saved by Hassen.
2': England have lined up 3-5-2, with Young and Trippier as the full backs. Kane and Sterling are leading the line.
Starting XI of both the teams.
Here is the England starting XI for their first match of the 2018 World Cup.
Former Newcastle United and England great Alan Shearer is showing his support for his nation.
The former England skipper and nation's 'Golden Boy' Wayne Rooney is ready.
England kick of their World Cup 2018 campaign against Tunisia. It may not sound good, but they are the World Cup's underachievers. Every year, the English team is expected to do well, but every time, they flatter to deceive. This edition sees them come in with a young coach in Gareth Southgate, and a very young and energetic squad skippered by Harry Kane. Will this be the year they finally make a mark in world football? Let's find out!
So this is it! The World Cup is back after four long years. This edition is being played in Russia. The tournament commences on June 14, and will conclude on July 15. Hosts Russia will play the first match against Saudi Arabia.
Defending champions Germany are on of the favorites to retain their crown, though, they will face stiff competition from 2010 champions Spain, 1998 winners France and five-time champions Brazil. While these three teams are expected to win, the likes of Argentina, Portugal and England are the outsiders to take home the trophy.
While these are the teams expected to win the trophy, there are three 'black horses' for the tournament.
1. Belgium: There is a very strong reason to consider Belgium as favorites, but it's way too early for that. The team managed by Roberto Martinez has many outstanding players like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois and Kevin de Bruyne. The quality in their midfield is second to none. Yet, they are no Spain or Germany. The growth of Belgium has begun only in recent time, and its fair to say not many within the team would actually believe they go till the end. Though, it won't be wrong to say given the quality they have, a surprise is very possible.
2. Croatia: They are arguably in the Group of Death, yet, the Croatian team will feel extremely confident of passing the group stage comfortably. That is a very minimum which the team should dream of, given they have the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic. The quality in their midfield is particulary good, and that might make them dream of winning the trophy. But in all honesty, that is improbable.
3. Uruguay: They were the dark horses back in 2010, they are the dark horses in 2018 as well. There is no denying the quality they possess. Well, not many teams can say they have two world class defenders in Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, and two strikers in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Yet, beyond these four players, there isn't much quality. The good thing for Uruguay though is the fact they can claim to have the easiest group, with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as their opponents. A qualification from group stages should be all but confirmed, and with the four world class players, you can put a cent on them doing the unthinkable.
A couple of teams have suffered off the field issues ahead of the extravaganza. Spain saw a change in their head coach, as Fernando Hierro took over from Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked on Wednesday following his decision to sign a contract with Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Germany also have been hit by an issue to couple of their players. Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan have been caught in controversy following their decision to take a picture with the Turkish President earlier this May.
It sparked outrage within their country, with a section of fans booing Gundogan and Ozil during Germany's friendlies against Austria and Saudi Arabia. Their manager, Joachim Low though, came out in their support, and criticized the fans for their reaction towards their players.