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England 6 Panama 1
« on: June 26, 2018, 09:37:59 AM »
England 6 (yes, six) and Panama 1

Before this match we witnessed Belgium beating Tunisia 5-2 (that the is the day before) and thought we were going into a fight to see who had the biggest jockstraps (that is between us and Belgium) and that it is them that would lead the table in so many ways. After all, Belgium was considered favourites, at least to get to the next round (and of course they had some Spurs players on their side… a done deal then, but, one moment, so do we…).

The England squad were considered too young and too inexperienced, but that didn’t mean we lacked enthusiasm and skill. So the crowd around the stadium were all in a jolly good mood – both sets of fans – couldn’t wait until that bloody whistle blew. The ones left back home were no less excited and huddled around their TV screens, wherever that was and whatever condition (outside or inside, hot or cold or even distant lands; expatriates).

We also remembered the tackling from the Tunisia game where it went unpunished, hopefully, this time the referees were at least on the ball, or the man.

So, the excitement was there, and the whistle finally went.

Before you could get an even proper breather in the 30c heat up popped Stones to score in the 8th minute. Well deserved? Yes, but – hold your horses – don’t get too cocky as it could backfire and they could suddenly equalise. Then the wrestling started by the Panama boys, but this time the eagle-eyed referee spotted it, and a penalty was awarded. Up pops our man Kane, all attentive – and takes a fantastic shot and Bob’s your uncle and Fanny is your aunt.

The fans had a wabble, as they didn’t expect things to go this quickly, but 12 minutes later Lingard scored a fantastic goal and some – not all – wet themselves (could be with beer, but who is taking notes!). What a goal, we shouted, we were going horse, and only 36 minutes had gone by. God… we needed a breather in this heat… but four minutes later Stones got his second, making the score 4-0. What the bloody hell is happening, I heard some gasp. This isn’t like England of old… or even new.
Then the bastards were at it again with a bit more professional wrestling and another penalty.  Up came our man to take it and what a cracker it was. Right on half-time plus one minute. We needed the break to collect our thoughts. It wasn’t supposed to go like this… inexperience means inexperience, and that meant wabbles and disappointments. What would the second half be like?

After getting some refreshments the second half was quickly upon us and we settled down to a slower, some even said lethargic, England squad.  I wouldn’t go that far. Nevertheless, I hope this wasn’t a sign of being too cocky?

Anyway, 17 minutes into the second half God or some prefer to call him Kane managed to score his third goal without even looking or trying (some say a reflection, others say the mental shenanigans of a powerful psychological force; i.e. Kane directed it to his leg… I hear the music of the Twilight Zone in my head). Whatever way you look at it Kane has – so far – becoming the talking point of the competition; a hero and all round Messiah of this tournament. And to boot, he also became the top scorer of this World Cup (so far).  Yes, he is on 5 goals while the mortals are less adequate. But let us not get carried away.

Yes, let's not get carried away as we have only played the minows, so far… oh, and the story isn’t complete without saying that Baloy (in the 78'minute) scored for his country and their supporters were ecstatic. We were ecstatic, they were ecstatic… everybody was ecstatic… we were in love with each other (their’s was their first world cup goal).

So, England recorded their biggest win at a World Cup to overwhelm Panama and secure a place in the last 16 before their final Group G game with Belgium. So well done England, but let us keep our feet firmly on the ground. Belgium are a different kettle of fish and also have a few Spurs players in their squad… and as we know with Spurs players, they can cause so much damage, as we showed last season. We didn’t finish 3rd – all matches away from home – by being pushovers, God no!

Harry Kane played a captain's role once more with a hat-trick to become the tournament's leading scorer, as I said, as England built on their opening victory against Tunisia with an impressive show of ruthlessness and quality.

The margin of victory for England topped 3-0 wins over Poland and Paraguay in Mexico in 1986, and against Denmark in 2002.

England top Group G as they have fewer yellow cards than Belgium. If they draw the final game it will go down to disciplinary records to decide who finishes first - and if that is level lots will be drawn. So there you have it.

What more can I say that hasn’t been already written or spoken? But what I will say, is that even though we did well in our two games, the big test will be against Belgium and then the knock out stages against some big fish. And they – the big fish - got to their next rounds by earning that honour, as we did. Be warned!

The next match (Belgium) will be on Thursday 28th June, at 7 pm at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad. ITV has the game.

I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve travelled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.