England got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against Tunisia, with both goals coming from Tottenham striker Harry Kane.
Kane, 24, opened the scoring with a tap-in from close range in the 11th minute, after Tunisia ‘keeper Mouez Hassen – who went off injured soon after – clawed John Stones’ initial header out the air. The striker then added a second in injury time at the end of the game, with a calculated near post header from Harry Maguire’s flick on.
KEY STAT: Harry Kane was the first England player to score twice in a World Cup game since Gary Lineker against Cameroon at Italia 1990.
The second was Kane’s 15th goal in his first 25 international appearances, with only Lineker scoring more (20) in his opening 25 games.
He did what he was born to do – score goals. It was a true captain’s performance, demonstrating a steely determination to win, and with easier opposition to come in the next game, there’s every chance Kane can challenge Cristiano Ronaldo – the bookmakers’ current favourite – for the World Cup Golden Boot.
Clinical Kane strikes again
With two goals in his opening World Cup game, Kane now finds himself only one goal behind Portugal striker Ronaldo in the scoring charts.
The confidence boost of netting a brace on his debut on this stage will give Kane the momentum to carry this performance into the next game against Panama on Sunday.
The striking aspect of his performance was that, frankly, Kane contributed little else.
This isn’t a problem, per se, as Kane is in the team to score goals – a duty he fulfils perfectly – but it demonstrates an ability to appear in vital moments when his team needs him. Despite a quiet performance elsewhere, Kane still has the brilliant ability to pop up with goals.
The Tottenham striker is wonderfully clinical, one of the best aspects of his game and, as he said after his 100th Premier League goal from the spot against Liverpool, “you can’t give [him] two tries.”
Kane’s route to the Golden Boot
Two goals already to his name, Kane will be full of confidence heading into Sunday’s game against Panama, easier opposition than the Tunisians.
Premier League counterpart Romelu Lukaku already netted a brace of his own against Los Canaleros, and Kane must think he can repeat the feat.
The Panamanians weren’t as solid at the back as Tunisia were, and given how much luck England found against this defence, they’d expect to create a similar amount of chances.
Belgium provide the sternest test of Group G and the Three Lions will undoubtedly struggle against them, especially against two of the world’s best centre backs – and Tottenham teammates – Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
However, the benefit is that he knows their game inside out from their days in north London and will find ways to take advantage of their weaknesses.
Irrespective of finishing first or second in Group G, England will likely face one of Poland or Colombia. Both are tough challenges in their own right, but Kane knows no fear.
He’s familiar with Davinson Sanchez’s game, whilst both him and partner Yerry Mina are young and fairly inexperienced, with Kane – the more experienced player – able to take advantage of their youth. Sanchez, moreover, struggles against strong, physical strikers.
Poland could still be without Monaco centre back Kamil Glik, but if he were to return, his low fitness is yet another aspect for Kane to exploit.
As England progress through the rounds, opposition becomes increasingly more tough, but it’s not something Kane will be phased by. He’s beaten every challenge put in front of him and scored against all types of opposition on multiple stages.
In truth, the Three Lions don’t have to go all the way for Kane to win. James Rodriguez was eliminated at the quarter-final stage with Colombia in 2014, and won the award with six goals. Kane is already a third of the way there.
I’ve got a lot of scoring trophies in my career. I’d like to be sitting here with a big gold one. – Harry Kane on the World Cup Golden Boot.
As one of the most determined players in the world, when Kane puts his mind to something, expect him to achieve it.
Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss all the action from Day 6 of the World Cup in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.
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