Football: England arrive at party in style

England 2 Shearer 42, Scholes 89 Tunisia 0 Att: 54, 587

THE COUNTRY may have been brought to a standstill yesterday afternoon but England are up and full of running. Apart from an early wobble and late nerves, Glenn Hoddle's team produced a polished and composed performance in the Stade Velodrome to secure their first World Cup victory since Gary Lineker's penalties defeated Cameroon eight years ago.

It was Lineker's successor as England's leading striker who set up their victory. In a World Cup which promises to be as evenly balanced as any, the goalscoring elite may make the difference and England were delighted to see Alan Shearer follow Marcelo Salas and Gabriel Batistuta in making an early mark.

Shearer scored after 42 minutes to cap a period of intense English pressure. Then, a minute from the end, Paul Scholes scored an excellent second to conclude a convincing start to England's Group G campaign.

Future opponents will be stronger than Tunisia who, Adel Sellimi apart, looked a very ordinary team, one of the weakest in these finals. However, none of the other contenders for the prize have looked any better. In the first match, the points are the most important thing.

Romania took all three from the group's other match in Lyons yesterday, and England will meet them in Toulouse on Monday. Before that game, which will be a far more testing encounter, they will rest and rehearse at their Brittany base, which they flew back to last night.

Although Romania looked impressive, England will also be confident after a performance which grew in conviction. As expected Darren Anderton did replace David Beckham and, though his use of the ball was sometimes poor, he added pace and movement to the right flank. Gareth Southgate took the right centre-back position and, apart from occasionally being drawn inside, did well. In central midfield David Batty and Paul Ince sat behind Scholes, who produced a performance to banish any lasting memory of Paul Gascoigne.

While his range of pass is not as good as Gascoigne's, Scholes brought other gifts to the position. He goes past people with an alacrity Gascoigne can no longer manage, keeps possession just as well and his temper better. He also provides a goalscoring threat now well beyond the fallen idol.

After all the preparation and waiting England had started slowly. In the fourth minute, Sellimi was able to draw all three central defenders to him before slipping the ball to Skander Souayah on the edge of the box. It was a wonderful chance but he shot lamely and Sol Campbell was able to deflect the ball wide, not that it would have unduly troubled David Seaman. It was to prove the best opportunity Tunisia were to create. Although Sellimi was always threatening, he rarely had the required support.

England now asserted themselves. Anderton, Scholes and Ince each had a sniff of goal before Scholes very nearly scored. Ince won possession from Souayah in midfield, played a one-two with Teddy Sheringham, then fed Graeme Le Saux outside him. Scholes met the chipped cross with a downward header but Chokri El- Ouaer was able to block.

Seven minutes later the goalkeeper was drawn into an even better save as Sheringham, chesting a loose ball 30 yards out, turned and volleyed only for El-Ouaer to push the shot against the crossbar.

Scholes allowed El-Ouaer to produce another save with a mis-hit shot from Sheringham's cross, then might have had a penalty when he tumbled under Jose Clayton's challenge. England were in total command but needed to make it count. Three minutes from the break they did. Shearer won a free-kick and, from Le Saux's cross, glanced a fine header in off the post. It was his 19th goal in 40 internationals and 14th in the last 17.

Khaled Badra, running onto a long ball from Sellimi, reminded England to guard against complacency but they quickly regained ascendancy in the second period. Scholes had several efforts and even Tony Adams and Southgate, following the first-half example of Campbell, made forays forward.

Yet the second goal did not come and, as Zubeir Beya, with a shot, and Tarek Thabet, with a header, went close, England began to grow tense. Anderton and Sheringham both wasted chances to set up a clinching goal so, with six minutes left, Hoddle decided to play his trump card. On came Michael Owen and, such was the rapturous response from the crowd, England's mood visibly brightened. Five minutes later Ince ploughed through the middle and back-flicked a neat pass to Scholes, who held off Thabet before curling a 20-yard shot inside the far post. It was a goal worthy of the world stage.

A booking for Campbell - for a clumsy challenge - aside, the only discordant notes were the noises off the pitch. Before and after the game the familiar sound of police sirens rent the air. Inside the stadium the minute's silence for Fernand Sastre was revoltingly ignored, the Tunisian anthem booed and the now-dated refrain of "No Surrender" given voice.

However, there was no trouble inside the ground, despite the breakdown of segregation and a truly staggering English presence. Approaching 20,000- plus - surely the largest support to follow England overseas - they lifted an English team who must have felt they were was playing at home.

The sunshine, azure blue skies and mountainous Provencal skyline disabused them of that notion - but at least they now feel at home in the World Cup arena.

ENGLAND (3-5-2): Seaman (Arsenal); Southgate (Aston Villa), Adams (Arsenal), Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur); Anderton (Tottenham Hotspur), Ince (Liverpool), Scholes (Manchester United), Batty (Newcastle United), Le Saux (Chelsea); Sheringham (Manchester United), Shearer (Newcastle United). Substitute: Owen (Liverpool) for Sheringham, 84.

TUNISIA (1-2-5-2): El-Ouaer (Esperance); Badra (Esperance); S Trabelsi (CS Sfaxien), Boukadida (Etoile Sahel); S Trabelsi (CS Sfaxien), Ghodbane (Etoile Sahel), Souayah (CS Sfaxien), Chihi (Esperance), Clayton (Etoile Sahel); Sellimi (Real Jaen), Ben Slimane (Freiburg). Substitutes: Beya (Freiburg) for Souayah, h-t; Ben Younes (Etoile Sahel) for Slimane, 64; Thabet (Esperance) for H Trabelsi, 79.

Referee: M Okada (Japan).

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?