The two favourites secured important wins, though one was more glamorous than the other.

What Happened

A long dull affair involving England (who could’ve known?) and Tunisia saw the sides locked at 1-1 heading into stoppage time after goals to Harry Kane and Ferjani Sassi. However the Kane Train buried a crucial header late to shake off England’s usual yips, putting them in a strong position to progress past Group G.

In the other match, Panama were no match for Roberto Martinez’ Belgian juggernaut, conceding to Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku twice to fall 3-0.

Stand Out Performers

  1. Romelo Lukaku scored 11 goals in qualifying, though English pundits still doubted his ability to translate this form to the World Cup. The Stormzy-lookalike was at his free-scoring best for Belgium, netting twice to send his side on the path to the Round of 16.
  2. Harry Kane is a phenom. Two more goals today cemented his status as one of the world’s best strikers, and as a player who can meddle in the top tier of football when it counts. Can the Hurri-Kane be slowed?
  3. Now 72-years-old, plenty cast their doubt over Martin Tyler when he was announced as SBS’ anchor commentator. Boy has he proved his detractors wrong. A brilliant night of commentary by the Brit will be heard on highlight packages across the country.

Talking Points

Have Belgium finally arrived? It’s the message no coach wants to hear, but it certainly seems that this well-oiled machine is ticking over following their dispatching of World Cup debutants Panama. Tougher opponents await though and the Red Devils must remain vigilant.

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What it Means

Both Belgium and England successfully negotiated an unpredictable opening round and take their place in the box seat. The two countries switch opponents over the weekend, with the opportunity to guarantee progression on the cards.

Needs Work

Panama. Los Canaleros rarely threatened in what was admittedly their toughest matchup against Belgium, however the Panamanians will soon become nothing but a piece of novelty trivia if they fail to regroup against England in a few days.

England struggled to break down tough customers Tunisia for large periods of their match-up. The late Kane winner may have saved the Three Lions’ blushes, though Gareth Southgate would be keen on a few less heart palpitations come Panama.

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What’s Next

Group G leaders Belgium can eliminate Tunisia from contention with a victory when they do battle at 10pm EST Saturday Night at Otkrytie Arena, whilst the English will look to do the same ahead of their showdown with the Benelux nation in Match Day 3. They face Panama at 10pm EST Sunday Night at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

Goal of the Day

Dries Mertens is a fabulous advocate for the good ol’ flush volley. As the ball bounced back to him, Mertens showed flawless technique from the elbow of Panama’s box to break the deadlock just after HT, one that had seemed near impossible to snap. A champion effort from the prolific Napoli forward.

 

Miss of the Day

Raheem Sterling managed to spectacularly bottle a close range attempt early in the match against Tunisia. After sensational and quite frankly unexpected link up play upfront drew the keeper out, the ball was pulled to Sterling who somehow lost all control of his body and failed to bundle the ball home.

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Adelaide-based writer, content creator and story-teller. Like one of those determined ants that require a second flick.