World Cup Recap – Day 519th Jun 2018 |
Day 5 meant an end to the waiting for England and their fans as the 3 Lions were in action alongside fellow European teams, Sweden and Belgium.
So VAR, so good for Sweden
The early match saw Sweden in action at the World Cup without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimović. His 15-year stint with the national side, appearing 116 times and netting 62 goals, makes it feel like he would forever be a part of the Swedish set-up.
Sweden struggled in qualifying, getting to the World Cup via victory in a 2 leg playoff with Italy, and were less than impressive without him in their warm-up games. Just to add some extra spice to the encounter, there were media reports of the Swedish coach spying on the South Koreans during their training sessions in Russia.
On the pitch, it was the Swedes who took the early initiative, creating several chances on the Korean goal but still going in at halftime 0-0. The only goal of the game came from yet another VAR decision when Claesson was brought down in the box. Up stepped captain Granqvist, who buried the penalty to become one of the oldest ever players to score on his World Cup debut at a grand old age of 33.
No Waffle for Impressive Belgium
The big star names were out in force for Belgium as they encountered a Panama team which had battled their way to their first ever World Cup finals. It was expected to be a fairly one-sided affair but, as results so far have shown, nothing can be taken for granted at Russia 2018 and a goalless first half certainly caused some Belgian nerves.
Belgium were off to a flying start after halftime with a beautiful volley from Dries Mertens which landed neatly in the back corner of the Panama goal. An equaliser very nearly came with a sitter of a shot from Michael Murillo saved by the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the other end.
Manchester United striker Lukaku then assured the victory with a brace after some superb supply play from Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne. The confident nature of the 3-0 victory has put Belgium in pole position in Group G and it’s hard to see them failing to progress based on the early evidence.
Harry’s Amazing Brace
With expectations high after some collected and impressive preparations, it was finally time for the Three Lions to kick things off in Russia. They got off to a flying start with multiple chances flying at the Tunisian goal in the opening minutes of the game. Captain Harry Kane pounced on a rebound from a fantastic Ashley Young shot in the 11th minute to give England an early lead.
England came to rue the wasted early chances after Sassi converted a Tunisian penalty, coming from Walkers trailing arm inside the box. At 1-1 the game stretched on into the second half with lingering feelings of a laboured draw in uncomfortable conditions.
However, the perseverance paid off when the two Harrys combined to score a vital 91st-minute goal and clinch the 3 points. Was it ever in doubt? Well possibly…. but it’s the winning start England desperately need as they look to banish the terrible performances of their recent World Cup adventures.
In today’s action, we look forward to watching the last of the groups swinging into action with Columbia v Japan and Poland v Senegal.
Then Egypt, possibly complete with their wizard Mo Salah, take on the host nation who are currently riding high on their 5-0 hammering of Saudi Arabia.
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