Star strikers secure full house for Europe

THE DAY REPLAYED – With the notable exception of the holders, European teams have been faring decidedly well at Russia 2018. Today’s trio of wins for Sweden, Belgium and England ensured that, of the 13 matches they have been involved in thus far, teams from the Old Continent have lost just one.

Harry Kane’s late winner against Tunisia boosted the European contingent’s points haul yet further, and completed the second double of the day after Romelu Lukaku’s earlier brace for the Belgians.

In all three of the matches on Day 5, it took second-half goals to secure deserved wins. For Sweden, Andreas Granqvist’s penalty was their first at this tournament since Henrik Larsson’s 90th-minute equaliser against England in 2006. It was also no more than they deserved against a Korea Republic side that ended the match without having registered a single shot on target.

Later, Belgium endured a tough first half against debutants Panama before their class told in the shape of three sumptuous second-half goals. Lukaku grabbed two of them, but the pick of the bunch came when Dries Mertens scored a screamer of a first-time volley, helping extend Belgium’s unbeaten run to an impressive 20 matches. Only Spain (21) currently boast a better streak in international football.

Then, another star striker came up trumps as Kane struck twice to sink Tunisia, becoming the first England player since Gary Lineker in 1990 to score a World Cup brace.

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