World Cup Daily: Harry Kane to the rescue; Belgium cruise; Mohamed Salah watch
Monday at the World Cup saw Harry Kane lead England to a win over Tunisia, while Belgium flexed their attacking muscles against first-timers Panama. Elsewhere, Sweden topped disappointing South Korea.
The big story: Kane you believe it? England win!
It looked like more bad headlines -- "England remember that they are England and draw with Tunisia" is what I had written -- but Harry Kane showed that, indeed, this is a different England. The captain scored two goals on his World Cup debut, doubling Wayne Rooney's whopping total of one from three tournaments.
For the first 30 minutes, England were a revelation: They sang the anthem! It should have been 3-0 just five minutes in! Look at those triangles! However, some poor finishing up front, a silly Kyle Walker elbow in the box and subsequent penalty conversion combined to have Tunisia closing in on a 1-1 draw.
But for once some good fortune went England's way when Harry Maguire headed a stoppage-time corner kick to Kane and the ultra-composed Tottenham man steered his header into the net. THE CUP IS COMING HO ... No, not ready for that, yet.
Video of the day: England optimism
Steve McManaman says the pressure is off Harry Kane after his brace vs. Tunisia.
ICYMI, Belgium's patience paid off
Panama's resistance could last only so long. The CONCACAF nation did an admirable job in keeping Belgium under wraps and making it to halftime with the score 0-0, but frankly this was Belgium's three points the whole way.
For a good hour or so, Romelu Lukaku was kept quiet, but Dries Mertens' goal -- a cracking volley at that -- loosened things up for Belgium and that benefited the Manchester United man. Plus, it also helps when you have the silky-smooth right foot of Kevin De Bruyne, who served up an impeccable outside-of-the-right-foot pass for Lukaku's first goal.
Of all the title candidates coming into the tournament, it looks like Belgium have stood the tallest. As for Panama, this was an historic evening for the Central Americans that should be appreciated despite the result.
Sweden slogged past South Korea
Their matchup with South Korea wasn't expected to thrill the masses -- and it didn't -- but credit to the Swedes for overcoming a foul-infested 90 minutes and a pair of otherworldly saves from South Korea goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo.
South Korea do realize they're in a World Cup, right? Was Son Heung-min on the pitch on Monday?
Tweet of the day
And you thought the bugs in Manaus were bad four years ago!
German TV coverage on in our Moscow hotel... pitchside presenter in Volgograd has gone full bee-keeper. pic.twitter.com/GduVYZ0XPk— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) June 18, 2018
What's ahead on Tuesday?
Colombia vs. Japan (8 a.m. ET, 1 p.m. UK)
Four years ago in Brazil, Colombia salsa danced their way to the quarterfinals, but the expectations will be higher for James Rodriguez and the Cafeteros. Japan are strong in attack with the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki, but the defense needs work, having allowed six goals in three pre-World Cup friendlies.
Poland vs. Senegal (11 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. UK)
The Poles will be out to show the world that they are more than just Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, although that's certainly not a bad guy to have as your headliner. The same could be said for Senegal, with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane serving as their main man.
Russia vs. Egypt (2 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. UK)
Everyone will have played once and we go back to the top at Group A, with Russia facing Egypt. The host nation was impressive in their opener against Saudi Arabia, winning 5-0, but let's be real; all anyone wants to know is whether Mohamed Salah will play. If this is any indication, the Liverpool striker looks ready to go.
Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .