World Cup 2018: England Players Need To Step Up To Kane's Level
Well, they did it. For the first time in a long time, England won a World Cup game and actually looked pretty good in the process, but nobody can hide the fact that the Three Lions owe a great debt to their star striker, Harry Kane.
Not only did Kane's two goals seal the win, he was one of the better players on the pitch all night along. He had three shots in total; one was blocked and the other two hit the back of the net.
He misplaced a few passes and lost the ball a couple of times, but was constantly doing all he could to make himself available for his teammates. On several occasions, especially in the second half, England started to look sluggish, Kane came deep and almost acted as an extra midfielder, helping to set up the chances that he was also expected to finish.
And finishing is something that this squad seriously needs to work on. When the ball falls to Kane, he can be expected to tuck it away, but England had several other major chances to kill off the game in just the first half hour.
Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli, and John Stones were all presented with golden opportunities. Sterling was offside, so his wouldn't have counted, but the fact that he still contrived to put his shot wide from just a few yards out is worrying.
Sterling, Lingard, and Alli are all excellent players with proven goalscoring skills, but the World Cup is unforgiving. At this level, players can't expect to get half a dozen chances, and they need to take any opportunity they get. They need to be clinical.
Ruthlessness and efficiency are key factors in any tournament-winning team, and there were many moments last night when England fans felt like the team would once again pay for wasteful finishing.
Fortunately, like a knight in shining armour, Kane was there to save the day, but England can't rely solely on the Tottenham man to win every game. Looking back at past World Cups, previous champions like Spain and Germany stood out for their multitude of goalscorers, with players all over the pitch chipping in with goals along the way.
Heading into the World Cup, we all knew that the England squad was young and inexperienced, with only Danny Welbeck and Harry Kane having scored over ten goals, and it's clear that these players need to be given a little time, but they should still be finishing such big chances.
England's next game against Panama could be the perfect opportunity for players who aren't called Harry Kane to get their names on the scoresheet and give themselves some much-needed confidence for the final clash with Belgium and, perhaps, the latter stages of the competition.