England’s World Cup campaign appeared to be getting off in familiar fashion until Harry Kane’s late winner from a corner kick to beat Tunisia 2-1.
The England skipper opened the scoring in the 11th minute as he turned in the rebound from John Stones’ header following a bright start from Gareth Southgate’s men.
Tunisia drew level in the 35th minute from the penalty spot with Ferjani Sassi beating Jordan Pickford from 12 yards.
Kane however was on hand again to score from an injury-time corner which got a touch off Harry Maguire.
Goals – 2
Shots – 18
Possession – 61%
Tackles – 12
Dribbles – 14
England were set up in their tried and tested 3-1-4-2 formation with Raheem Sterling in support of Kane. Jordan Henderson got the nod over Eric Dier as the holding midfielder and did well on the night to spread play. The wing-backs provided plenty of width in attack and the likes of Lingard and Alli were able to break forward.
As England chased the game in the second half, the centre-backs stepped up with greater frequency, adding more numbers in midfield but cautious not to congest the central area. Harry Maguire for instance regularly found himself running down the left flank when he carried the ball forward.
TACTICAL TALKING POINTS
Direct ball forward
For much of the first half, there was a pattern of play which England seemed to have perfect – except for its conclusion. They played the ball out from the back well, drew in Tunisia enough and would then go forward quickly with a direct pass.
Jordan Henderson and Kieran Trippier did that particularly well on a few occasions, releasing the likes of Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. They got in behind Tunisia plenty of times but fluffed their lines and wasted some glorious opportunities.
Southgate set his team out well and the attitude from kick-off seemed to take Tunisia by surprise.
The boss should’ve been basking in the glory of being 3-0 up at half-time but the finishing let him down.
Perhaps should’ve been more proactive with his substitutions when his side never really got going after the restart. Finally, for 45 minutes at least, he delivered an England team which moved the ball swiftly with crisp passing and darting runs forward.
That knighthood should be any day now…
Rating – 7/10
Japan boss Akira Nishino admits the squad have been shaken by the earthquake back home ahead of their World Cup opener against Colombia.
They embark on their sixth straight campaign on Tuesday when they kick off in Group H.
But Sunday’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Osaka, which has reportedly killed two and injured more than 200, has upset the team.
“There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members,” Nishino told a press conference ahead of the game at the Mordovia Arena.
“They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down.”
Japan lost 4-1 to Colombia in the group stage in Brazil four years ago but skipper Makoto Hasebe is confident they are ready.
“We are in excellent shape and I hope we will come as one onto the pitch,” Hasebe told a press conference.
“We will try to show our teamwork and we are confident we’ll be able to do it. We have a new head coach, and we had to build up our team again, but I think we are well prepared for tomorrow’s game.”
Rodriguez, the top scorer in Brazil 2014 with six goals, missed training on Friday due to muscle fatigue with his left calf reportedly the issue. The 26-year-old trained at the Mordovia Arena on Monday.
“We are waiting to see what the doctors will say after the last check,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman told a press conference.
“We always wait until the very last minute before we decide.
“World Cups are played after a very heavy season. It is true some players arrived here in Russia not feeling very comfortable. They have all improved very much, even if some of them are a little tired.”
Saudi Arabia didn’t fare well in their World Cup opener against Russia, falling 5-0 in a disappointing showing, but the nation are still on the path to achieving a grander goal.
Saudi Arabia Football Federation president Adel Ezzat believes a World Cup triumph is in the future of a team from the region.
“We have a vision that an Asian country will win the World Cup one day,” said Ezzat.
Check out what else Ezzat had to say in the video below.