First African goal not enough as Tunisia lose 2-1 to England

Tunisia scored the first goal by an African side at the 2018 World Cup but it was not enough to ensure victory as two strikes from Harry Kane helped England to a 2-1 win.

England attacked from the first whistle and were rewarded on 11 minutes for their attacking approach. Ashley Young’s in-swinging corner was met by a bullet John Stones’ header which required a wonderful stop by ‘keeper, Mouez Hassen, who injured himself in the process, and captain Harry Kane bundled home to give England a deserved lead.

England could have added more goals but Raheem Sterling, Jese Lingard, Jordan Henderson all went close, but their profligacy and some good goalkeeping denied them.

Typical of a game in the English Premier League, England gifted the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia a route back into the game, giving away a penalty in bizarre fashion. An aimless Tunisia cross from the right was sailing harmlessly away but Kyle Walker threw his elbow, rather unknowingly, which hit the onrushing Fakhreddine Ben Yousseff and the referee pointed to the spot, Ferjani Sassi converting for the equalizer, Africa’s first goal at Russia 2018.

Undeterred by the setback, England continued to attack with speed and verve, and Tunisia half-cleared Dele Alli’s awkward header off the line, Stones couldn’t sort his feet to convert from the loose ball and Tunisia cleared. The Three Lions looked to regain their lead before half time, Lingard’s shot blocked out for a corner, Walker’s cross well handled by substitute ‘keeper, Ben Mustapha.

The second half was played at break-neck speed but lacked clear-cut chances, with Tunisia sitting deep to defend an unlikely draw in impressive fashion.

The introduction of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave England a new attacking dimension, and the latter won the corner kick which led to the winning goal scored in added time by captain and talisman, Harry Kane. Trippier’s delivery was headed towards the back post by Harry Maguire, where an unmarked Kane was waiting to convert, giving England a dramatic but deserved victory in an impressive display.

The loss means no African country has registered a point in this year’s tournament, and Senegal will be relied upon for the continent’s first points in the opening fixtures of the group stage.