England got their World Cup campaign off to a great start with their win over Tunisia in the Stade Velodrome. It was the first time since 1982 that they had won their opening World Cup game.
In an unusual situation for Hoddle, England had 22 fit players, meaning that he had the luxury of chosing whichever players he pleased. After omitting Paul Gascoigne from the squad, England's coach brought in young Paul Scholes to take over in midfield. Debates had been going on since the squad was named on 2 June, as to whether Michael Owen should partner Shearer up front. In the end Hoddle elected to go with experience and chose Sheringham over the Liverpool star. One surprise to many though was the selection of Darren Anderton over David Beckham.
After waiting several days since the World Cup began England finally got to play their first game of the tournament. Tunisia started the game spritely and almost scored in the third minute through Souayeh, but thankfully the ball went out of play from an England defender.
It took England a while to settle into the game and in the 28th minute came their best opportunity of the game so far. Le Saux played the cross to Scholes but El Ouaer managed to make the save with his legs. It was a good effort by the Manchester United player.
Several minutes later Sheringham almost gave England the lead when he hit the ball on the volley, which would have been a terrific goal if it were not for the brilliant save from the Tunisian goalkeeper. Moments later El Oauer prevented Tunisia from going behind when he gathered the ball from a cross with which Scholes had connected, but in the 42nd minute Tunisia's goalkeeper could no longer keep England at bay when Shearer had his only chance of the game to score, and he grabbed the opportunity to give England the lead. Le Saux created the goal from a free-kick which Shearer headed down goalwards. The ball hit the bottom left post and went in the net. England were a goal to the good at the break in this important match. It could have been two if Anderton's header was on target.
England, and in particular, Scholes seemed to be promising so much in the second half. Scholes twice tried to get on the score sheet but his efforts amounted to nothing, but they whet the appetite of the England travelling fans.
Although there was good work by England, Tunisia were making England work hard and did threaten Hoddle's
defence. Ghodhbane tried to get an equaliser from 30 yards but his volley went wide.
At the other end of the field, on the hour mark, Adams had ventured forwards and was in the penalty area to receive the ball from Sheringham but Tunisia's goalkeeper blocked the danger. A minute later there was a worrying time for the England bench when Beya blasted the ball towards England's goal from 15 yards but the shot went over the crossbar.
With five minutes of the game remaining England introduced Owen to partner Shearer, with Sheringham leaving the play. This decision means that Owen is the third youngest player to participate in the World Cup.
England in the latter stages of the game were look comfortable and were launching many attacks. It was disappointing though that Campbell was England's first player to be cautioned, with just three minutes of the game remaining.
The last memory of the game will be Scholes' fine goal in the last minute of play. After creating so many chances and having a number of near misses throughout the game, Scholes' goal was excellent as he curled the ball from the edge of the penalty area into the net.
England will go into their next World Cup game against Romania with confidence after this result, and proved that there is life after Paul Gascoigne.
Seaman #1, Campbell #2, Adams #5, Southgate #6, Le Saux #13, Anderton #14, Ince #4, Batty #8, Scholes #16, Sheringham #10 (Owen 85 mins - #20), Shearer #9.
Subs Not Used: Flowers #22, Martyn, Keown, R Ferdinand #21, G Neville #12, Beckham #7, Lee #17, McManaman #11, Merson #15, L Ferdinand #19.
El Ouaer, H Trabelsi (Thabet 79 mins), S Trabelsi, Badra, Boukadida, Clayton, Ghadhbane, Chihi, Souayah (Beya 45 mins), Ben Slimane (Ben Younes 65 mins), Sellimi.
Subs Not Used: Boumnijel, Salhi, Chouchane, Jabaliah, Bouazizi, Ben Ahmen, Jelassi,Melki.
England Scorers: Shearer (42 mins), Scholes (90 mins)
England Caution: Campbell
Tunisia Cautions: Clayton, Ben Younes, Ghodhbane
Referee: M Okada (Japan)