Jun 18, 2018 at 7pm UK at ​Volgograd Arena
Attendance: 41,064
Sassi (35' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-1)
Kane (11', 90')
Walker (33')

Live Commentary: Tunisia 1-2 England - as it happened

Live Commentary: Tunisia 1-2 England - as it happened
© Reuters
Relive Sports Mole's live coverage of the 2018 World Cup Group G clash between Tunisia and England, which finished 2-1 to the Three Lions.

Harry Kane scored twice as England recorded a 2-1 win over Tunisia in their Group G opener at the 2018 World Cup.

Kane had sent England into an 11th-minute lead, but Ferjani Sassi levelled the scores from the penalty spot 10 minutes before the break, and it appeared that the points would be shared in Volgograd.

The Three Lions captain came up with a stoppage-time winner, however, as Gareth Southgate's side started their campaign with three points.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.

6.01pmEvening all! Sports Mole's live 2018 World Cup coverage continues from Volgograd as Tunisia face England in Group G. Both of these teams have had to wait to get their campaigns underway, but the time is now upon us. Can England open with a win, or will Tunisia shock the Three Lions to claim three points of their own? Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute updates of the action right here!

6.04pmBelgium and Panama actually kicked off Group G earlier this afternoon, and it was Roberto Martinez's side that collected all three points courtesy of a 3-0 victory. Dries Mertens opened the scoring for the Red Devils, before Romelu Lukaku netted a brace. Now it is England's turn to open their campaign.

6.07pmTonight will be just the third ever meeting between Tunisia and England in international football. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in a friendly back in June 1990, but England won 2-0 when they locked horns in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup, with Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes netting.

6.10pmRight, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Volgograd. Is it Danny Rose or Ashley Young in the left wing-back position? Does Kyle Walker start in one of the three centre-back areas? All of the questions answered as we have a look at the XIs...

England's Ashley Young during the press conference on May 28, 2018 © Reuters


TUNISIA: Hassen; Meriah, S Ben Youssef, Bronn, Maaloul; Sassi, Skhiri, Badri; F Ben Youssef, Khazri, Sliti

ENGLAND: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Lingard, Alli, Young; Sterling, Kane

6.16pmThere was an England XI leaked recently, and that is indeed the team that starts tonight. Harry Maguire is chosen ahead of Gary Cahill as part of a three-man defence, while Jordan Henderson beats Eric Dier to the holding midfield position. Ashley Young starts over Danny Rose at left wing-back, while Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling will all be tasked with supporting Harry Kane.

6.19pmAs for Tunisia, Sunderland attacker Wahbi Khazri has not played since April due to a thigh problem, but the attacker is in the XI tonight. The same could not be said for Leicester City's Yohan Benalouane, however, with the defender named on the bench. Tunisia are also missing key playmaker Youssef Msakni - who picked up a serious knee injury before the tournament - but Naim Sliti does feature.

6.22pmSo there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff in this World Cup fixture. Looking to avoid a repeat of their embarrassing group-stage exit in Brazil four years ago, England will open their 2018 World Cup challenge with a potentially tricky match against Tunisia.

England's Dele Alli with manager Gareth Southgate after the match against Nigeria on June 2, 2018© Reuters

6.25pmThere is no question that Southgate's side are the favourites to collect all three points, but they will be wary of the challenge that Tunisia could provide in Volgograd. England reached the quarter-finals of both the 2002 and 2006 competitions, but exited the 2010 World Cup in the round of 16, before failing to make it out of the group stage in Brazil back in 2014, which was very disappointing.

6.28pmIt has been said that there is no pressure on Southgate's side this summer, but another group-stage exit would be a huge disappointment for a side packed full of youth and energy. England beat Nigeria and Costa Rica in their two friendlies before this summer's competition, and they have not actually lost a single match since a 3-2 defeat to France in June 2017, which is an impressive run of form.


6.35pmPreparations have been strong, and there does seem to be an air of confidence as England look to make their mark in Russia. Matches against Panama and Belgium will follow this one before the group stage comes to a close, but England will be desperate to open with a strong victory against Tunisia.

6.38pmThe likes of Spain, Germany, Argentina and even Brazil have shown their frailties in the early stages of this summer's competition, and England would send out a message with a positive performance tonight. That said, the defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 will still be fresh in the memory for many of the fans, and England's recent record at major tournaments simply cannot be ignored.

6.42pmCompeting in their first World Cup since 2006, Tunisia will know that they face an uphill task to make it out of a section which includes both England and Belgium. Tunisia have actually never been out the group stages of a World Cup - falling at the first hurdle in the 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006 competitions, before failing to qualify for either the 2010 and 2014 tournament.

6.48pmNabil Maaloul's side have been in strong form in the lead-up to the competition, however, drawing with Portugal and Turkey in friendly matches before suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain on June 9. Panama are expected to lose all three of their group matches, but Tunisia could be out of the running by the time that their third match comes around if they lose to England and then Belgium next weekend.

6.52pmAs mentioned above, Tunisia, who have only won one game at the finals of a World Cup, suffered a huge blow before the competition when it was confirmed that key playmaker Youssef Msakni had suffered a serious knee injury, which ruled him out of the tournament in Russia. He will be a huge miss.

6.55pmThe Eagles of Carthage do have a number of talented footballers fit and present, however, and the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations champions will enter the clash with England knowing that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Right, the time for talking is almost over here!

6.58pmHere we go then; the handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. It is time for Tunisia against England at the 2018 World Cup. Stay tuned for live updates of the action!

0 minKICKOFF! England kick things off in this Group G clash...

2 min... England are in their red strip tonight, with Tunisia in the white. As expected, the Three Lions have started with decent possession as they work the ball across their back three. Lingard attempts to collect a pass from Trippier as the ball is played forward, but Hassen is on hand to collect.

3 minSAVES! Wonderful save from the Tunisia goalkeeper as Hassen keeps out a strike from Lingard, who had found himself free inside the box. The resulting corner is then delivered into Maguire, and Hassen has to be alert once again. Really good start from the Three Lions here.

4 minMISS! Sterling turns a Lingard cross wide of the post from close range, but the offside flag had been raised. That said, it was still a huge miss from the Manchester City attacker!

5 minStoppage in play here as the Tunisia goalkeeper receives some treatment.

7 minHassen is back on his feet, and it does appear that he will be able to continue. Tunisia have ridden their luck in the early stages, and England look full of invention and pace, which is exciting to see.

8 minYoung's arm had just made contact with the cheek of F Ben Youssef, but the referee deemed it an accident. Plenty happening in the early stages of this match, which is not even 10 minutes old.

10 minThere is no question that Tunisia can pass the ball, and they have shown as much in the last couple of minutes. Best spell of the match for the team in red as England are forced to sit a little deep.

11 minHalf-chance for Kane as the England captain finds some space outside the Tunisia box, but his effort is deflected and then saved by Hassen. Tunisia will have to deal with a corner kick here.

11 minGOAL! Tunisia 0-1 England (Kane)

12 minEngland make the breakthrough in the 11th minute as Kane smashes home from close range. Tunisia goalkeeper Hassen did well to keep out a header from Stones, but Kane was on hand to convert!

13 minHassen is down for Tunisia once again, and a change might well have to be made here.

15 minTUNISIA SUB! Tunisia do indeed have to make a change as their goalkeeper Hassen leaves the field for Ben Mustapha. That is a big blow for the Tunisians at this stage of the match.

17 minEngland have been playing front-foot football since the first whistle here, and they look capable of cutting through Tunisia every time that they break forward. Really good stuff from the Three Lions.

18 minSAVE! Good save from Ben Mustapha as the Tunisia substitute keeps out a strike from Henderson following another fluid England move. All one-way traffic at the moment here.

19 minIMAGE! Kane celebrates England's opener tonight.

England's Harry Kane celebrates scoring their first goal in the World Cup match against Tunisia on June 18, 2018© Reuters

21 minEngland continue to regain the ball impressively as Tunisia struggle in the final third of the field.

23 minTunisia win a corner as Meriah breaks down the right - showing wonderful pace in the process...

23 min... England have no problems clearing the corner from Khazri, which was far too deep. Tunisia do muster an attempt when Sliti finds space in a forward position, but his effort was too high.

25 minHalf-chance for Lingard as the Manchester United attacker meets a deep cross, but the number seven fires the ball wide of the post. Lingard has had a couple of good opportunities here.

27 minIt must be said that the first 27 minutes of this match have flown past, and England boss Southgate will be pleased with what he has seen. Tunisia, however, have had some decent moments here.

28 minMistake from Maguire as the centre-back loses the ball in a dangerous position, and Sassi has a powerful strike deflected just wide of the post. Decent period for the Tunisians here.

29 minIMAGE! The moment Stones rose highest inside the Tunisia box before Kane fired home.

England's John Stones heads at goal before Harry Kane scores their first goal from the rebound in the match against Tunisia on June 18, 2018© Reuters

31 minLittle under 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and England have not really been able to build on their early pressure. Tunisia have been pretty good since Kane made the breakthrough, and you do get the feeling that the team in white fancy their chances of causing problems on the break.

32 minSAVE! Ben Mustapha does well to keep out a header from Maguire.


34 minVAR will have a look at this one. Walker pushed his arm into the face of Ben Youssef!

34 minThe decision will stand; Tunisia have a spot kick here...

34 minBOOKING! Walker (England) has been booked.

35 minGOAL! Tunisia 1-1 England (Sassi, pen)

36 minTunisia level the scores as Sassi sends a really wonderful penalty into the bottom corner!

38 minMaguire loses the ball once again, and England are fortunate that Khazri slips in the final third. England really need to be careful here as Tunisia continue to grow in confidence here.

39 minEngland are going to be forced into a change here as Alli signals to the bench.

39 minCHANCE! Huge chance for England to level as the ball falls for Stones inside the Tunisia box, but he gets it all wrong! Maguire's header had created the initial panic inside the box.

40 minKane was actually dragged to the ground inside the box before the Stones chance, but the referee was not interested, and neither were VAR. Still 1-1 with 40 minutes on the clock in this match.

42 minAlli is still on the field despite looking like he was going to be replaced by Delph.

43 minCHANCE! Lingard has a strike deflected just over the crossbar following another excellent header from Maguire. The resulting corner is then cleared by the Tunisians here.

44 minPOST! Lingard pokes the ball past the Tunisia goalkeeper, but the ball hits the post before dropping behind. England could have had five or six goals in this first period!

45+1 minWe are into the first of three additional minutes at the end of the first period.

45+3 minTunisia will be really fortunate to enter the half-time break at 1-1, and that does appear to be the case. England have had so many chances, but have been unable to build on Kane's early goal here.

45+4 minHALF-TIME: Tunisia 1-1 England

7.49pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 1-1. Kane sent England ahead from close range in the 11th minute, but Tunisia were level 10 minutes before the break when Sassi sent a penalty into the bottom corner. England have had a whole host of chances to score a second, but a mixture of good goalkeeping and poor finishing has left them down.

7.54pmSTATISTICS! England dominated the first-half possession with 59%, while they had 12 attempts - six of which were on target. Tunisia, meanwhile, hit the target with just one of their four attempts. Just the one yellow card to report, and that came for Walker for the incident which saw Tunisia gain a spot kick.

7.59pmBENCH WATCH! Tunisia have already been forced into a change tonight, with their starting goalkeeper Hassen leaving the field in in the 16th minute for Ben Mustapha. Head coach Maaloul also has the likes of Khalifa, Khaoui and Nagguez in reserve, and could use two of those in the second period. England, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Vardy, Rashford, Welbeck and Loftus-Cheek.

46 minRESTART! Tunisia resume the action here...

47 min... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops here. Game on!

48 minDecent possession for Tunisia in the early stages of the second period, with England thus far unable to break on the team in white. You do get the feeling though that there are more goals in this one.

50 minNot an awful lot to report in the early stages of the second half; England yet to get going here.

52 minBetter from England as they start to press the ball; a poor back-pass from Mariah sees Southgate's side win a corner, and plenty happens inside the box once again. Kane and Maguire were both pulled to the ground, but the referee was not interested. Tunisia need to be so careful here.

54 minEngland are fortunate that the offside flag goes up when Khazri had broken into a dangerous position before confronting Pickford. That was another wrong decision from the officials there.

56 minEngland are starting to play again in the second period, and Tunisia cannot keep the ball here.

58 minLittle over 30 minutes of the second period remaining, and you do get the feeling that Southgate will be considering alterations. Alli looks to be struggling, and there are plenty of options on the bench. The pace of Vardy and Rashford could also be key in the latter stages of this World Cup clash.

60 minHenderson flashes a dangerous cross into the Tunisia box, but Alli cannot react in time. The England fans are doing their best to make noise inside the stadium, but they are seriously out-numbered.

61 minTrippier has a low cross deflected behind as England start to turn the screw here...

62 min... Tunisia manage to clear their lines following a swing from Kane inside the box.

64 minWe are entering the stage of the match where Southgate will be considering changes. That said, England are very much on the front foot as we approach the final 25 minutes of action here.

66 minIt is quite a flat game at the moment; England need some invention from somewhere.

68 minMaguire stays forward in an attempt to meet a cross from Henderson, but the centre-back cannot fashion an attempt at the far post. Still 1-1 as we head for the final 20 minutes of action here.

68 minENGLAND SUB! Rashford replaces Sterling for England.

69 minEngland have a free kick in a dangerous area as Kane is fouled by Mariah...

69 min... Trippier's free kick was always wide of the post.

71 minKane is just denied by a challenge from Bronn as England look to break once again. Rashford uses his pace to create some space, but once again the final piece of work is just short. Still 1-1 here.

72 minBen Mustapha gathers under pressure from Alli as England look to force the issue once again.

73 minSliti fires harmlessly wide of the England post from distance.

74 minTUNISIA SUB! Sliti is replaced by Ben Amor for Tunisia.

76 minEngland just cannot get going at the moment, with Tunisia comfortably dealing with the pressure.

78 minLittle over 10 minutes of the second period remaining, and you do get the feeling that there is going to be another goal in this match. Tunisia have not had anything in the second period, but it would be just like England to concede a second in the latter stages. It has been a poor second half here.

78 minEngland have a free kick in a dangerous area as Alli is pushed to the ground...

79 min... Young's free kick is too high.

80 minENGLAND SUB! Loftus-Cheek replaces Alli for England.

82 minEngland continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field, but Tunisia continue to defend their lines. Something has to change for the Three Lions in the final 10 minutes of this match.

84 minTunisia goalkeeper Ben Mustapha wins a free kick for his side having been fouled by Stones. Well, the referee thought that it was a foul. Another questionable decision from the official there.

85 minTUNISIA SUB! Khazri is replaced by Khalifa for Tunisia.

87 minEngland continue to deliver into the Tunisia box, but the team in white continue to clear.

88 minRashford gets his feet wrong inside the box following good work from Loftus-Cheek.

90 minLoftus-Cheek over-runs the ball in a wide position, and Tunisia have a goal-kick. At least the Chelsea midfielder has shown a willingness to break forward since entering the field here.

90+1 minWe are into the first of four additional minutes at the end of the match.

90+1 minGOAL! Tunisia 1-2 England (Kane)

90+2 minEngland snatch it at the death as Kane heads a Maguire flick home from close range! The Tunisian defence went to sleep, and Kane was on hand to nod home his second of the match.

90+3 minENGLAND SUB! Dier replaces Lingard for England.

90+4 minIt is heartbreak for Tunisia, who are going to suffer a defeat in their Group G opener.

90+5 minFULL-TIME: Tunisia 1-2 England

8.54pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with England running out 2-1 winners over Tunisia in their World Cup opener. It is a huge win for Southgate's side here. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!

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Tunisia manager Nabil Maaloul on June 1, 2018
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