Russia Wrap: Late Kane heroics spares England’s blushes

England have got their FIFA World Cup™ off to a winning start – but only just.

They needed a stoppage time Harry Kane strike to down Tunisia in Group G, which also saw Beglium topple Panama.

Plus Sweden keep their hopes firmly alive after beating South Korea, following Monday’s stunning upset in the other Group F fixture.

Here’s a wrap of the overnight action in Russia …


A stoppage-time Harry Kane header saved England’s opening game blushes and ensured they got off to a winning start in Russia.

Up against Tunisia in Group G, and having seen Belgium start their campaign with a 3-0 win against Panama, England so nearly slipped up after a Kyle Walker error.

Kane had given England the lead after just 11 minutes and a rampant Three Lions side looked as if they could add to their tally – dominating the ball and the weight of chances.

Lining up in a 3-5-2, Kane was paired with Raheem Sterling up front, while Jordan Henderson patrolled the midfield to allow Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard to get forward.

Yet it was Walker, playing in the back three alongside John Stones and Harry Maguire, who committed a needless foul to give Tunisia a lifeline.

With the ball swung into the box and going beyond the Tunisian attacker, Walker opted to swing an arm out which caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and saw a penalty awarded.

Gareth Southgate celebrates post game
Gareth Southgate celebrates post game
Harry Kane after scoring his stoppage time winner for England
Harry Kane after scoring his stoppage time winner for England

Ferjani Sassi scored and Tunisia were level with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, a scoreline that would continue until Kane’s 92ndminute header from a set piece scramble.

"It felt good out there," Kane said after the win.

"That's exactly how we wanted to start the game. We attacked the team and created chances. We could have scored two or three goals and put the game to bed early.

"In a World Cup against any team they are always going to fight and keep going and we had to deal with that. We were really pleased with how we played."


Romelu Lukaku scored twice in six minutes as Dries Mertens also added a stunning volley to help Belgium down Panama.

With Group G poised for England and Belgium to progress through to the Round of 16, Roberto Martinez’s side was sparked into life by Napoli ace Mertens, whose volley broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion.

Lukaku then ensured the Red Devils would extend their unbeaten run to 20 games when he slotted home final passes from Premier League stars Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

Panama put in a number of robust challenges against a star-studded Belgium line up, including receiving five yellow cards.

"We knew they are aggressive,” explained Belgium and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

“They give unnecessary kicks. I think the referee gave enough yellows. I think even sometimes he could let the play go on a bit more. I guess he knew he had to stop it quickly.”


An Andreas Granqvist penalty has delivered a major blow to South Korea’s hopes of progressing through Group F.

Following Monday’s shock result between Mexico and Germany, Sweden v South Korea turned into ‘must win’ for both sides.

In the end, it was Sweden who prevailed 1-0 to end their opening game jinx that had seen them go winless since 1958.

The Scandanavians had missed a host of first half chances, with goalkeeper goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo denying them on numerous occasions.

But a second half intervention of the Video Assistant Referee saw Sweden awarded a penalty on 64 minutes after Kim Min-woo brought down Viktor Claesson.

Granqvist stepped up and slotted the spot kick into the bottom corner.