Our emphatic 6-1 demolition of Panama guaranteed we made it out the World Cup group stage for the first time since South Africa 2010. Well done to Gareth Southgate who is one of English football’s nice guys.
As one of two debutants at Russia 2018, Panama represent a true Fifa World Cup Cinderella story. With only Uruguay and Iceland possesing smaller populations, the team nicknamed “Los Canaleros” can hold their heads high with how they have performed.
However, despite expecting an England win, it was refreshing to see us taking our chances and maintaining control throughout the game. Two penalties must also be a good omen. For a great analysis on penalties check out this piece by the Economist.
Two goals from Captain Marvel, Harry Kane, a brace from Manchester City’s John Stones and a Phillipe Coutinho esque curler from Jesse Lingard saw us end the first half with a healthy 5 – 0 lead. I don’t think I will see an England score line like that in a World Cup again in my lifetime so thank you lads.
A subdued second half saw Kane complete his hat-trick with a fluke deflection from Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot. Los Canaleros managed to score their first ever World Cup goal with a consolation from Felipe Baloy.
Full time: England 6 – 1 Panama
Man of the match: Jesse Lingard
After winning the penalty for Kane on 20’, Lingard fired in his second international goal on 36’ to cap off a fine midfield display.
This world cup is hotting up and starting to look like a tournament for the “midfield maestro” with Luka Modric the current kingpin. The Real Madrid midfielder has two goals and has put on two masterclasses with his sidekick Ivan Rakitic, in Croatia’s victories against Argentina and Nigeria. I’m not comparing Lingard to the Croatian whizzes, but as mentioned before, I have been impressed with how vital he is becoming to the balance of our team. Lingard plays with a selflessness and a focus and is a real team player. International football needs those midfielders. The ones who are focused on the continuity of possession, transition from defence to attack and have the capability to nick a goal under pressure. After his glaring misses against Tunisia, I was worried he lacked the latter, but his goal in this game helped to alleviate those fears.
Also, his substitution on 63′ spoke more volumes about his importance to Gareth Southgate than any words I could conjure.
Goodbye Jack Wilshere
Talking of midfielders, I do have a few closing words for Jack Wilshere. Like many Arsenal fans, I was gutted to see him announce his departure from the club after Unai the ruthless could not provide him first team assurances. Jack Wilshere had the unique god given ability possessed only by left footers, to glide along the pitch cutting through football’s intangible gain lines, offsetting the balance of right footed players attempting to tackle. If only he had the physicality for the modern game, then we would have had a true England and Arsenal great. I urge you to join a historic European club and get yourself back into the England setup. I hope one day you can return to top form and even return for a second spell with us.