Marcus Rashford supports VAR but believes it needs to improve after England nearly pay the price

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Marcus Rashford saw action in England's World Cup opener.

Marcus Rashford believes the implementation of video assistant referees will be great for the game once the issues that threatened to derail England’s World Cup opener are ironed out.

The Three Lions kicked off a major tournament with a victory for the first time since 2006 on Monday as Harry Kane glanced home a stoppage-time header against Tunisia.

The 2-1 win sets England up well ahead of Sunday’s Group G clash against Panama, when Gareth Southgate‘s men will be hoping for better officiating from those on the ground and watching from afar.

Aggrieved at the penalty awarded against Kyle Walker by referee Wilmar Roldan, that equaliser was compounded by the VAR’s lack of action when Kane was twice bundled to the deck in the box.

Walker

Southgate felt his side were wrongly denied penalties on Monday and Rashford hopes for quick improvements to a system the forward welcomes.

“The idea of bringing it into the game is spot on,” he said.

“It will improve with time because there are some decisions – like the ones you said – where they have to at least check whether or not it’s a penalty.

“That’s down to them to decide but at least they should check those. I’m sure it’s something they can improve on.

“We’ve not talked about last night specifically, but we’ve had conversations about it previously.

“It’s a tough one because I think it’s something that the game definitely needed. As with everything it needs improving and I think it will improve in time.”

Three officials from FIFA gave a presentation to the England players and staff last Wednesday, but there are clearly still issues that need clearing up.

While England wait for the VARs to get their ducks in a row, Southgate is focusing on taking their sparkling start against Tunisia across 90 minutes.

“It was a good start to the tournament and it certainly gives us a platform to build on throughout the tournament,” Rashford said.

“The important thing was always the three points, but it was good that, especially in the first half, we got the performance we were looking for.

“You would expect us all to be happy and buzzing, which we were. It’s a big step to take, getting the three points.

“Like I said before, it’s a platform for us to build on and we have to improve the performances which will ultimately get the three points.”

Rashford came on a second-half substitute at the Volgograd Arena.

The 20-year-old’s hopes of starting the match appeared to go up in smoke due to a knee complaint sustained following his man-of-the-match display in the friendly send-off win against Costa Rica.

Rashford is now hoping to get the nod against Panama and complement star turn Kane, whose first goals at a major tournament underlined his key role for England this summer.

“He’s been a brilliant leader for us leading up to the tournament, as well as now we have started the tournament,” the Manchester United forward said.

“He always leads by example and there’s no better way to do it than by scoring goals, like he has been doing.

“He’s a top forward. His career is only going to go up and up.

“He’s very young and, at this stage of his career, he’s going to keep improving and getting better, so who knows how good he can get?”

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Robert Lewandowski has Pole position wrestled from him as 2018 World Cup bow ends in defeat to Senegal

Matt Jones 19/06/2018
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MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 19: Robert Lewandowski of Poland looks dejected following his sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group H match between Poland and Senegal at Spartak Stadium on June 19, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Senegal claimed the first win for an African team at this year’s World Cup as they earned a 2-1 triumph against Poland in Moscow.

Everton’s Idrissa Gueye opened the scoring in the first half, although his effort took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Thiago Cionek. They doubled their advantage after the break, but in controversial circumstances when Mbaye Niang sprinted back on to the field of play after injury and immediately intercepted Grzegorz Krychowiak’s woeful backpass, before beating goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to slot home.

Krychowiak’s fine header late on made the last few minutes interesting but Senegal held on.

Here, we analyse the performance of Poland pivot Robert Lewandowski, who endured a miserable evening in Moscow.

STATISTICS

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 2

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 23

Passes – 18

Key passes – 0

Dribbles – 1

Dispossessed – 2

30-SECOND REPORT

16 goals were plundered in qualifying, but against the Lions of Teranga the prolific Pole hardly had a sniff.

Polskie Orly (the Polish Eagles) failed to fly as they were grounded by a Senegal performance full of bite and energy – the travails of their star man indicative of their collective failure to get going in their World Cup opener.

GOT RIGHT

Getting involved – Kept quiet in the first half, the big striker tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck after the break, and gave us a glimmer of what he is all about when he fired a ferocious free-kick that needed clawing out of the top corner by Khadim N’Diaye.

As his side struggled to feed their frontman, he dropped deep, covering a tremendous amount of ground to try and drag his side back into the game.

GOT WRONG

Just not his day – Lewandowski is used to being the main man in most situations, but this is especially true at international level. He will hardly have endured quite as much frustration in a white shirt as he did in this game. Nothing seemed to stick, no matter how much he tried to influence things. Three unskilled touches, the most of any teammate and second overall behind Mame Biram Diouf, underlined his day.

VERDICT

Had a bold lightning bolt shaved into his head for a fresh World Cup haircut, but Poland’s star man failed to strike the high notes, as he was both starved of service and struggled to get into the game. Senegal were tenacious in defence and their full-blooded approach meant they never gave Poland’s danger man time on the ball to make his mark.

RATING: 5/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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Sadio Mane still plays a pivotal part despite not being the main man in Senegal's win over Poland

Matt Jones 19/06/2018
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Senegal claimed the first win for an African team at this year’s World Cup as they earned a 2-1 triumph against Poland in Moscow.

Everton’s Idrissa Gueye opened the scoring in the first half although his effort took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Thiago Cionek. They doubled their advantage after the break, but in controversial circumstances when Mbaye Niang sprinted back on to the field of play after injury and immediately intercepted Grzegorz Krychowiak’s woeful backpass, before beating goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to slot home.

Krychowiak’s fine header late on made the last few minutes interesting but Senegal held on.

Here, we analyse the performance of Senegal skipper and Liverpool wideman, Sadio Mane.

STATISTICS

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 1

Shots on target – 0

Touches – 39

Passes – 37

Key passes – 2

Dribbles – 1

Dispossessed – 0

30-SECOND REPORT

He is without doubt Senegal’s star man, but Mane had to play more of a support act rather than his usual role of leading man. But he was happy to do his bit for the team – an impish bit of skill midway through the first half not only livened up the game, but Mane too. A beautiful pirouette when receiving the ball in a tight situation instantly turned defence into attack for the Africans.

GOT RIGHT

Understated impact – Found himself a little on the periphery here, especially in the first half, but the lively Liverpool wideman still had a telling impact on proceedings. After switching briefly to a central role he received the ball off Niang after a fine run from the lively Torino forward and teed up Idrissa Gueye for his fortunate opener.

GOT WRONG

Utilising speed – For a man blessed with such searing speed, he struggled to assert his dominance over a Poland team whose midfield and defence is hardly blessed with pace. Mane was up against a 33-year-old right-back and 32-year-old right midfielder in Lukasz Piszczek and Jakub Blaszczykowski, but was unable to take advantage of his obvious talents and Poland’s plodding defence.

VERDICT

He’s had bigger impacts in games, and surely will feature more prominently as the tournament progresses, but he never shirked responsibility. In fact he went in search of work in the centre of the pitch towards the end of the half as he wasn’t having much impact from wide on the left – and that move paid off immediately as he set up the crucial opening goal.

RATING: 7/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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