Kane Leads England To Victory With Last-Minute Winner Against Tunisia
VOLGOGRAD, Russia—During its decadeslong run of futility at the World Cup, through the shootout defeats and incomprehensible blunders, England has tried just about everything to cure its major tournament hex. The team has overhauled its tactics, tried almost every formation in the book, and employed a stream of high-price managers from as far afield as Italy and Sweden. Kane Leads England To Victory With Last-Minute Winner Against Tunisia.
Through it all, England’s remarkable knack for punching itself in the face persisted. And as the clock wound down here Monday, at the end of an opening game in which England once again looked to have bungled away an easy win over Tunisia on a boneheaded error, it seemed the country’s history of hapless performances in international tournaments would continue.
But here in Russia, England may have finally stumbled onto a cure for its World Cup woes. It turns out this whole international soccer business is a lot easier when you possess a world-class player who specializes in putting the ball into the net.
In the first minute of stoppage time, with a snap of his neck and a flick of the head, Harry Kane struck a clutch late winner, his second goal of the match, to snatch a 2-1 victory that helped England sidestep disaster and suggested that maybe—just maybe—this time might be different.
“It felt like it could have been one of those nights again, but we have great togetherness,” Kane said. “We never panicked and we got what we deserved at the end.”
For the England fans, who lingered in the stands long after the final whistle, performing a rendition of “Rule, Britannia!” and an impromptu conga line, the sight of Kane sprinting toward the corner flag after his injury-time winner inspired a mix of sweaty relief and sheer incredulity.
For so long it had looked as if this would be a trademark exercise in English self-combustion. Tunisia looked overmatched from the first whistle—and that was before losing its starting goalkeeper to injury inside the opening 15 minutes. By then, England had already gone in front, taking the lead when Kane pounced on a loose ball off a corner and tapped into the net.
The chances kept coming for England during a furious opening period in which the Three Lions looked capable of carving apart the Tunisian defense every time they broke forward. And with half an hour gone, England had the lead, almost all of the possession, and Tunisia had failed to muster a single shot on goal. It was almost too easy.
But then came the customary lapse. Tunisia sent in an innocuous cross from the right, Kyle Walker stuck out an arm to block Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and when the striker hit the deck, referee Wilmar Roldan awarded a penalty. Ferjani Sassi slotted home from the spot and, out of nothing, Tunisia was even.
“We felt it was a really harsh decision,” England manager Gareth Southgate said.
It was too early for panic to set in and England created a half-dozen more chances to score before halftime. But as the second half wore on and the pace of the game dropped, those shooting opportunities began to dry up and a familiar sinking feeling started to set in.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that it’s going to be one of those days, that the ball just won’t fall for you,” Kane said.
There were just two minutes of stoppage time left to play when England trudged forward for a corner and a final throw of the dice. The ball came in from the right and defender Harry Maguire rose to glance it to toward the far post, where Kane shook off his marker and England’s long history of World Cup buffoonery to head in the winner.