As England get off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Tunisia in their opening World Cup 2018 Group G game, euphoric England manager Gareth Southgate says he would be proud if the game had ended on a 1-1 draw.
The Three Lions raced to an early lead as captain Harry Kane volleyed in his first goal in a major international tournament in the 11th minute, after John Stones’ initial header was saved by Tunisia keeper Mouez Hassen, who went off injured in the first half.
But there was controversy after a penalty was awarded to Tunisia for a Kyle Walker’s error of an elbow on Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Ferjani Sassi levelled the score from the spot.
Kane struck again in injury time to ensure the Three Lions launched their World Cup campaign with a win for only the third time since 1986.
But with six shots on target before half-time: more than any team at the World Cup so far, Southgate was proud of his young team even by half-time, describing them as impressive and patient.
He said: ‘The way we kept playing, even though the clock was running down — we stayed patient, waited for chances and deserved the win.
‘We had so many clear-cut chances, we had total control of the game in the second half.
‘Even if we had drawn I would have been proud of the performance. In the end you wear teams down and good teams score late goals.
‘It’s a night where it’s hard to highlight individuals, the squad has been brilliant. Team selection was difficult and our substitutes had a good impact.
‘We’ve got this result over the past few weeks and that’s because of everyone.
‘We’ve given ourselves a great platform to build on. There’s much to build on but there’s a lot of work to do still.’