Harry Kane Saves the Day but England Look Static and Sloppy


Kane is one of the best strikers of the [English] Premier League.

This was a match where victory was England's minimum requirement - and the manner in which it was achieved echoed one of Southgate's key pre-match messages.

The winning goal came at the end of a drab second half in which Tunisia defended deep and nullified England's attack.

Despite the calm and nice side for which Southgate has a reputation, Rose revealed there is a lot more to the manager than this perception of him.

Euro 2016 ended in humiliation for Kane and England with a loss to Iceland in the last 16, but the team has been transformed by Southgate.

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Yes, there were some negatives in this win - Raheem Sterling's infuriating search for form on the worldwide stage, Jesse Lingard's wayward finishing, the team's lack of imagination at times - but with Germany losing their opening game and heavyweights such as Brazil, Argentina and Spain all failing to win on their first outings in Russian Federation, it would be overly critical to focus on the downsides of England's performance.

- Kane became the first England player to score a brace in a World Cup match since Gary Lineker against Cameroon in 1990. It's tough. We played so well especially in the first half and we could have scored a few more. Once the game was level, England looked flat and could only create chances from set pieces.

One of Southgate's predecessors, Fabio Capello, often spoke about the weight of the shirt as a burden to England's players, but there was no sign of this in the opening exchanges. We were strong on set-plays all night. But, as they say: cometh the hour, cometh the man - and that man would be the prolific Kane.

That's quite the win for England. The opening twenty minutes of the game England's movement was great and caused problems for Tunisia.

Maaloul played down the significance of several futile England penalty claims.

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Jesse Lingard would have opened the scoring in the third minute had Mouez Hassen not pulled off a fine save with his legs after the Manchester United forward was found by a cutback from Dele Alli.

Kane - who has now scored 15 goals in 25 caps - was twice wrestled to the ground in the box without the video assistant referee awarding a penalty.

Sterling is a popular figure in England's squad, has a fund of goodwill behind him and a manager who believes in his talent, but when the statistics are so unflattering it only ratchets up the pressure to deliver, and quickly.

England enters the 2018 World Cup saddled with baggage and no expectations to fill those bags with.

"Harry Maguire's potential is huge", said Southgate.

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