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Belgium's stars come out to shine in 2nd half against Panama

19 Juin 2018

Fewer England fans made the journey to watch their team's first World Cup match in Russian Federation than some expected, but one made a special effort, sailing from Bulgaria to Volgograd on a yacht. "I got a call from Kieran (Trippier) to leave it so I tried to make myself as big as possible, and he ran into my arm". He also could miss the game against Panama but return later in group play.

Tension began before Sweden and South Korea even hit the field in Nizhny Novgorod.

"Obviously there is a lot of respect there but from us kind of just concentrate on the task ahead and if we get a chance to go and see any of the statues and monuments I'm sure some of the players would like to do that". The two enter the tournament expected to battle it out for second place with Mexico, who shocked defending champions Germany on Sunday. He stopped the game with South Korean mid-counter-attack to check the TV screen - and awarded Sweden a spot-kick.

Yet against a very limited South Korea side, Sweden looked fairly toothless.

"We have respect for all three teams in this group, but having respect doesn't mean feeling fear", said the 34-year-old.

Both teams feel they can do well in Group G, which includes Panama.

Tunisia has been tested and was respectable in a 1-0 friendly loss to Spain.

Throughout last season, that shy, shrinking violet Zlatan Ibrahimovic dropped heavy hints that he might come out of global retirement for the World Cup.

While England were preparing for their World Cup opener with Tunisia, their Group G rivals Belgium and Panama were facing off in Sochi. We're at peak form in life. But they are unbeaten in 19 matches under Martinez and are among the favourites to go far at the World Cup.

Experienced midfielder Gabriel Gomez, Panama's most-capped player with 141 appearances, will also play.

The journey had sometimes been tough, he said, with the crew braving rough waters, an electrical storm, Russian bureaucracy and anxious at one point that they would be stopped by the Ukrainian Navy.

After the break, England struggled to maintain the intensity of the opening period and Tunisia looked more comfortable as they contained their opponents' attack until Kane's victor.

But the concern over his system, with three central defenders and two advanced wing-backs, is that it is better suited for open games against top sides than dealing with weaker teams playing for a draw.

Belgium's stars come out to shine in 2nd half against Panama