Let’s get the earlier matches out the way quickly:
Sweden Vs South Korea
South Korea don’t look good. Sweden score. They win.
Belgium Vs Panama
Lukaka, already Belgium’s record goalscorer at 25 years old, scored 2 in a 3-0 victory in a against Panama, who played in their first World Cup having tried to qualify since 1978.
Hazard scores too.
Even though Belgium win 3-0, it doesn’t look impressive. There’s little pace and the key players don’t look like they are being used effectively.
England Vs Tunisia
Finally. We’ve had to wait bloody ages, but it’s here. Our opening match against a Tunisia side who have never managed to go beyond the group stages.
We look good from the off, attacking comfortably in the formation. Honestly, if we netted all of our brilliant chances, we could have been 4 or 5 clear. As it is, we go 1 up with via Harry Kane.
Wait, hang on – is that a key England striker scoring at a World Cup?
(I didn’t rate Rooney.)
Then we have a penalty given against us for an elbow by Walker that looks accidental. It’s reviewed by VAR and it stands.
Now, it’s taken me a while to come to terms with it, but I’ll accept that it’s a penalty if I have to – but what infuriates me is the lack of consistency that follows. A number of challenges occur against England players that, if you are going to give said penalty, should be given. In particular, Kane was held and wrestled by a player without any intention to go for the ball at corners – twice very noticably.
I felt a bit hard done by that we conceded such a penalty, but did not end up on the favourable side of similar key decisions.
The second half we came out and applied 45 minutes of pressure. And it’s tough, when the other side are playing for a draw and are set up like a brick wall. I began to come to terms with a draw, and started thinking about how that might make the match against Belgium a key one – something England fans fear.
But Kane – again, a striker living up to expectations – in the first minute of stoppage time scores the winner from the corner.
I hit my elbow on the light from celebrations and it hurt.
Panama next, which should be a certain victory, surely – though there isn’t such a thing in a World Cup, as we’ve found so far.
But maybe, just maybe – we can start to believe.
It’s just one match, so let’s keep our feet on the ground, and only on the occasion, should we allow our mind to drift away and begin to wonder… what if?