Harry Kane dug England out of a hole and secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.
Gareth Southgate could hardly have wished for a better start to this Group G clash in Volgograd, where his side capped a start displaying skill, verve and energy with an early goal from their captain.
Yet the officials managed to topple the insects as England’s biggest irritant as Ferjani Sassi netted from a controversially awarded penalty that somehow was not followed up by spot-kicks at the other end as the video assistant referees ignored the manhandling of Kane.
But what Southgate’s men lack in experience they make up for in spirit, with Tottenham striker Kane nodding home at the far post to clinch a dramatic late victory which sent their hardy travelling support wild.
It is the first time England have opened a major tournament with a win since 2006 but it did not need to be this hard given Kane directed home an 11th-minute opener.
Bold, direct and hungry in attack, Southgate’s men were then hit by a sucker-punch as referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot after Kyle Walker swung an arm in the box.
Sassi fired home and frustration grew as the VAR did not interject after Kane was dragged to the deck. He also failed to do so from a similar incident at the start of the second period.
Jesse Lingard hit the post in between those controversial incidents but chances dried up in a testing second half before Kane’s stoppage-time heroics won it for England.
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