World Cup 2018: Kane, Lukaku star as European nations dominate again

first_imgHarry Kane was the saviour for England as he score an injury-time winner to lead his team to a 2-1 win over Tunisia in the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on Tuesday.This was the first time that England have scored two or more goals in the opening game of a World Cup for the first time since 1998. Both were scored by Kane and was the first to do so in regular time since Gary Lineker achieved the same feat against Paraguay back in 1986. He also scored the two goals against two different goalkeepers for the first time since Diego Forlan did the same against South Africa in 2010.Ferjani Sassi, who scored the equaliser for Tunisia, became the first African to score in this World Cup.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEBuzz kill: Gnats swarm playersEngland and Tunisia players swatted away swarms of gnats during their opening World Cup game in Russia’s riverside city of Volgograd on Monday.The area around Volgograd is known for its swamps and wide rivers, the perfect breeding ground for insects during the hot and dry summer in the Russian south.Russian media said authorities used planes in the months before the game to spray the area around the stadium, which is next to the massive Volga river, with a special substance designed to kill them off, but the effort was only partially successful.PHOTOSAuthorities also tried to regulate the flow of water at a nearby hydro-electric dam which locals believe has adirect effect on the number of insects.advertisementSeveral players were sprayed by staff just before kick-off, but that did not appear to be enough either. England’s Raheem Sterling looked particularly bothered by the tiny gnats circling his face before the start of the second half.Fresh Start? England scored late to beat Tunisia 2-1 in their 2018 FIFA World Cup opener (Reuters Photo)England decided to play an attack-minded midfield in their World Cup Group G opening match against Tunisia.England manager Gareth Southgate included Jesse Lingard in the starting lineup, with Jordan Henderson as the solitary England enforcer in the middle of the pitch and left Eric Dier on the bench, as widely expected.Harry Kane ecstatic after scoring late winner vs TunisiaHarry Maguire was given the nod as part of England’s central back three alongside John Stones and Kyle Walker, leaving experienced defender Gary Cahill on the bench.England’s starting XI was so fresh that it had a cumulative total of 248 caps between them, which is the lowest by an England team in an international tournament since June 1962. Only four payers had who have played more than 30 matches, with them being Jordan Henderson (39), Raheem Sterling (38), Kyle Walker (35) and Ashley Young (34).Belgium unbeaten in 20 games Belgium have not lost their last 10 games in the World Cup (Reuters Photo)Belgium opened their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over debutants Panama in their Group G encounter at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi.With the win, Belgium are unbeaten in their last 20 matches. They have won 15 games and drawing just five with their last loss coming in September 2016 when they lost 2-0 to Spain.World Cup 2018: Belgium manager hails quality of Mertens and LukakuDries Mertens joined Marc Wilmots (1998 and 2002) as only the second player to score in two editions of the World Cup, when he hammered home a superb volley two minutes into the second half, sending the ball arcing over Jaime Penedo after Panama struggled to clear a cross.Romelu Lukaku’s hard work up front was rewarded when he headed home Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant pass off the outside off his foot to make it 2-0 in the 69th minute and the big striker latched on to an Eden Hazard pass to complete the scoring with a neat finish.Lukaku almost makes history Romelu Lukaku scored a brace against Panama (AP Photo)Lukaku scored a brace to break the resistance of a brave Panama side on their World Cup debut. In the first half, Lukaku had just seven touches of the ball which was seven fewer than any other player on the pitch. He also just had one shot (that too off target), and made six passes (with only two of them being successful).He scored in the 69th and 75th minutes to be trailing legendary Jan Ceulemans in the list of most goals for the ‘Red Devils’ in major tournaments (World Cup and EUROs). Lukaku with five goals is level with Marc Wilmots and is behind only to Ceulemans with six.advertisementSweden’s goal drought endsSweden defeated South Korea 1-0 to win an opening World Cup game for the first time since 1958. The last time they had beaten the tournament hosts Mexico 3-0. They were winless in their last seven World Cup opening matches, winning just two and drawing the rest.Granqvist seals historic victory for Sweden over South KoreaIn the 65th-minute Viktor Claesson was brought down by Kim Min-woo in the penalty box, and after consulting with the Video Assistant Referee system, a penalty kick was awarded. In the second VAR-awarded penalty of the World Cup, Sweden’s 33-year-old captain Andreas Granqvist stepped up confidently to sweep the ball low and left of the otherwise impressively in-form goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo.Granqvist’s Historic Penalty Granqvist’s goal was the first penalty scored by Sweden at the World Cup since 2002 (AP Photo)Granqvist’s goal was the first penalty scored by Sweden at the World Cup since 2002, when Henrik Larsson netted against Nigeria. Up until that goal, Sweden had last scored a goal in a 2-1 defeat against Chile back in March.”The VAR took a while but we are very pleased they had it … I was pretty sure,” Granqvist said of the wait.Interestingly Granqvist’s last four goals have all comes from the penalty spot, with goals against Belarus, Luxemburg and now South Korea.(With inputs from Reuters)last_img

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