World Cup Throwback: England beat Tunisia in 1998

12th Jun 2018

If England's recent record at major tournaments has taught us anything, it's that the Three Lions cannot afford to underestimate any team.

Yet, as expectations on Harry Kane and Co begin to build, that is precisely what seems to be happening ahead of an opening group game against Tunisia, who are 21st in FIFA's world rankings.

England's young, talented squad certainly seem primed to make an impact in Russia, but fans shouldn't start thinking about Belgium before the first hurdle has been navigated.

After all, England have been here before. And the opening game of France 1998 proves that the North Africans should not be taken lightly.

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England kicked off their campaign against the Tunisians on a baking day in Marseille.

Having qualified ahead of Italy with just one defeat to their name, hopes for Glenn Hoddle's side were high.

But there were nerves on show in the early stages as Sol Campbell's lightning speed was required to spare Tony Adams' blushes with a tackle on Skander Souayah.


The Tunisians shaded the first-half an hour as England struggled to find their rhythm, while Chokri El-Ouaer was in inspired form between the sticks.

But the goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Alan Shearer notching his first goal of the tournament by latching onto Graeme Le Saux's free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Shearer's effort sent England into the break in front and Three Lions fans around the globe breathed a huge sigh of relief.

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England had a succession of chances to put the game to bed after the interval as Paul Scholes directed a header straight at the goalkeeper while Teddy Sheringham saw an effort tipped onto the bar.

Tunisia had opportunities of their own but Zubeir Beya's finishing let him down as he blazed over the bar and failed to test David Seaman.

Michael Owen was introduced late on, becoming the third youngest player in World Cup history in the process, but it was Scholes who sealed the three points.

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The Manchester United midfielder exchanged passes with Paul Ince before curling home a superb effort in the 89th minute to send England on their way.

Victory over Colombia followed but a shock defeat to Romania meant England finished second in Group G. That set up a last-16 clash with Argentina, which proved to be costly.

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