Belfast Telegraph

England will feel justice was done after VAR flop, says Billy Hamilton

By Billy Hamilton

A good night for England but a shocking night for VAR - just what is the point of the Video Assistant Referees if the right calls aren't being made?

Harry Kane was wrestled to the ground several times and England never got the penalty they deserved against Tunisia.

They will feel that justice was done when Kane headed in the late winner, but it's so frustrating to watch this wrestling in the penalty area.

We've been trying to cut this out of the game for about 20 years and the introduction of the fourth official behind the goal hasn't changed anything.

With the introduction of VAR, we want to see defenders punished for hauling down strikers and the fans want to see goals.

The penalty which Tunisia were awarded was nowhere near as obvious as the spot-kick England were denied. The referee has got to be alerted to these incidents.

I thought the referee, Wilmar Roldan, was weak, but at least England got the win they deserved even though they made hard work of it.

If they can keep playing at the level they produced in the opening half-hour last night then they could go on and win the World Cup, but I can't see that happening.

I thought it was going to be the same old story for England with a flat result, but they started very strongly and deserved to take the lead.

I'm not sure whether it was the heat in the stadium or a bit of fatigue creeping in, but the difference in England's second-half performance compared to the opening half was a bit alarming.

The forward runs of Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli dried up but that man Kane was the predictable hero.

He gets into the right positions and scores crucial goals.

That's 15 goals in his first 25 matches for England and he really did come to his side's rescue.

That's what you want from your skipper - someone who leads by example, and what an important goal that was.

I liked the way England's defenders pushed up and joined the attack as well.

Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier in particular showed some delicate touches and started to play good, attacking football.

As well as this result getting their campaign off to the best possible start, it also lifts confidence going into Sunday's game against Panama and they should have little trouble there.

I felt Gareth Southgate's substitutions were right, even if they could have been made earlier, but they obviously need to be more clinical as this game should have been dead and buried at half-time.

The great thing about this result for England is that the pressure has been lifted off their shoulders, and when that happens you tend to play better football.

I thought they played some good football and were worthy winners.

I think there's a strong fear of losing in the first game but England can take many positives from this opener.

There's still that question, however, of why they ran out of steam and ideas in the second half.

In the opening half they worked hard and closed the Tunisian players down but they never kept up the pace.

It reminded me of the Belgium game, who beat Panama 3-0 yesterday.

If you just watched the second half you would say they were world beaters, but in the first period they were ordinary.

Spain and Portugal impressed me, and when Cristiano Ronaldo's on fire the Portuguese are very dangerous, but what I like about Spain is they mixed up their play - two goals came from long balls into the box and that variety makes them a potent force.

It's too early to pick a winner, but I would say that Spain carry a huge threat.

Then again, if one team suffers a lot of injuries it changes everything.

Germany won't play as badly as they did against Mexico and you will see teams grow as the tournament unfolds.

And England can do well. Funny things can happen, and they are now in a strong position to qualify from their group. If a few refereeing decisions go England's way, you never know...

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