Football’s coming home, right?
Ok, not quite but England made a dramatic start to their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Tunisia in Volgograd. With the scores locked at 1-1 and with the game wandering into injury time, Harry Kane headed home a winner from close range.
With Belgium still to contend with in the group, it was a massive victory for the Three Lions and one that sets them up for qualification going into the Panama game.
A victory over the Central Americans would all but place them into the round of 16, setting up a knockout clash with a side from the relatively weak Group H.
Of course, it’s too soon to get carried away yet there was plenty of positives to take from the Tunisia performance.
ENGLAND 2-1 TUNISIA
Although the scoreline implies a tight game, England could have led by three or four goals in the opening 25 minutes and were unlucky not to be awarded penalties for some question making on Kane.
There’s a quiet feeling that the Walker penalty was the correct decision but, if that was the case, England should have been awarded a spot kick of their own.
However, controversy aside, there were plenty of promising performances and one came from Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson.
LAMPARD ON JORDAN HENDERSON
The often maligned midfielder was given the nod against Tunisia, swiftly impressed England fans on Twitter and even caught the attention of BBC Sport pundit Frank Lampard.
Prompted by Gary Lineker – who branded Henderson’s showing as ‘exceptional’ – Lampard praised the 28-year-old for his showing and dispelled the myth he simply passes backwards and sideways.
“He played very well. He carried on his recent form with Liverpool,” Lampard noted.
“With Jordan Henderson, I probably wasn’t sure what kind of midfielder player he was a few years ago, something of an all-rounder.
“But he’s certainly a leader, on and off the pitch, and he’s shown a real intelligence in that role and he’s got great drive in him.
“The one question you mentioned there is: can he release and unlock that pass a little earlier? We saw that he can tonight.
“You need the passing and the movement behind the lines, and we had that.”
Based on the Tunisia performance, it’s difficult to argue with Lampard.
Henderson does receive fair criticism from time to time, but there’s no doubt he can become an easy scapegoat when there’s a poor result for Liverpool or England.
He could be a huge asset for England going forward in the World Cup and fans will hope he performs similarly against Panama and Belgium.
Henderson isn’t exactly a champagne player but he has plenty to offer going forward.
Onto Panama on Sunday.