England Vs Panama: The United States took over a French engineering project, and after a decade, opened one of the most popular conduits for maritime trade in the world — the Panama canal. At Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, at the mere sight of a set-piece, another thoroughfare was in operation, ever ready to ship in goals — the Panama defense. With England wearing white, and the game being played on grass, the scoreline might have confused sports fans that Wimbledon had come early; instead.
The Three Lions have booked their spot in the Round of 16, and their upcoming tussle against Belgium will decide who gets to top their group.
England made just the one change to their squad that beat Tunisia in the dying moments of their opening encounter — Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek stepping in for Dele Alli, who had picked up a thigh strain in the previous match. Though, the other change — Marcus Rashford for Raheem Sterling — suggested a couple of days ago by assistant manager Steve Holland’s notes, wasn’t enacted.
England got off to a fantastic start in the eighth minute when an unmarked John Stones’ header gave them an early 1-0 lead. Fourteen minutes later, they doubled their lead through an emphatic Harry Kane penalty after Jesse Lingard had been fouled in the box. Truth be told, England could have scored one more by that time had Henderson not over-hit his through ball to Kane in the fourteenth minute.
Though Panama was up against superior opposition, it didn’t prevent them from indulging in muscular manhandling of their opponents, often leading to disastrous consequences. Very soon, Panama was staring at a rout in the first half itself.
The last time England had scored four goals in a World Cup match was in 1966 when they beat West Germany to the title in extra time. This time, they scored five in the first half of the game.
The third goal of the game, scored by Jesse Lingard, was the best of the lot. He exchanged passes at the edge of the penalty area with fellow forward Raheem Sterling, took a few steps, and unleashed a curling shot that went in off the underside of the crossbar. Panama’s manhandling once again led to their downfall in the last minute of the first half after Harry Kane was tackled to the floor, and the England captain scored another penalty to match Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally in the Golden Boot standings.