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FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

Tunisia Let it Slip at the Death

Tunisia looked set to emerge from the Volgograd Arena with a draw on Monday, only to concede a late goal and lose 2-1 to England in Group G opener at the 2018 World Cup.

England came out of the blocks at pace and could have been in front after just three minutes when Jesse Lingard saw his close-range effort superbly kept out by Mouez Hassen.

The Three Lions mounting pressure finally bore fruits as they opened the scoring in 11th minute when Harry Kane tapped home from close range after Hassen had to stop Harry Maguire’s header initially.

The Carthage Eagles were forced to make an early substitution as Hassen was replaced four minutes later having sustained an injury from that save with Farouk Ben Mustapha taking his place in goal.

The first chance of the game for Tunisia saw Ben Youssef speeding down the flank before pulling off a cross for Ssasi, but his goal-bound shot was blocked and went out for a corner

Ssasi was again close to getting on the score-sheet after a storming run by Badri in the 27th minute but again the home defence came up trumps.

England were also having some defending to do with Pickford  as well as defenders Stones and Walker doing some sturdy work at the back.

There were also first-half chances for Lingard and Kane but the former shot wide while the latter had his effort blocked.

The Carthage Eagles finally found a leveller in 34th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a foul by Kyle Walker. Ferjani Sassi stepped up and made no mistake, beating the outstretched arm of Jordan Pickford.

Kieran Trippier came close to putting the Three Lions ahead seconds before half-time after breaking clear on goal, but watched his effort go inches wide.

On the restart, England were to have the first chances of the second half, but Sterling and the Henderson were wayward with their efforts.

When Tunisia did manage to carve out a chance, they found Pickford impassable between the sticks; the Everton keeper doing superbly to deny the dangerous Alli in the 54th minutes.

Sterling should have put England ahead in the 66th  minute but having done the hard work, he fluffed his parting shot.

However, the Carthage Eagles continued to ask questions of the Three Lions defence with Ben Amor flashing an 85th minute shot wide to illustrate that point.

England continued to push forward and were rewarded for their efforts in stoppage time when Kane headed a Trippier’s delivery into an unguarded goal at the far post.

Loss for Tunisia marked the fourth loss at the death for an Africa side after Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria also bit the dust in a similar fashion.

Tunisia’s next game will be against red-hot Belgium on Saturday at Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

How they lined-up:

Tunisia Starting XI:
Hassen, Maaloul, Meriah, S.Ben Youssef, Bronn, Badri, Sassi, Skhiri, F.Ben Youssef, Khazri, Sliti

Subs: Ben Mustapha, Benalouane, Haddadi, Beadoui, Khaoui, Ben Amor, Khalil, Mathlouthi, Srarfi, Khalifa, Chalali, Nagguez

England Starting XI:
Pickford,Maguire, Stones, Walker , Young, Dele, Henderson, Lingard, Trippier | Sterling, Kane

Subs: Rose, Dier, Vardy, Butland, Welbeck, Cahill, Jones, Delph, Rashford, Loftus-Cheek, Alexander-Arnold, Pope


Syam Ben Youssef and Wahbi Khazri combine to clear another England chance (Photo credit: Guardian)

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