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LEE CLARKE’S WORLD CUP DIARY: One season wonder? Kane’s critics look foolish now

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It was a night when optimistic English dreams of lifting the World Cup were ignited thanks to a brace from influential captain Harry Kane who belied his tender years underneath the Volgograd lights.

In 1996, Alan Shearer went into the European Championships in England having not scored a goal for the national side in two years.

He arrived at the tournament keen to make an impression and took just 23 minutes to make his mark and announce his comeback to the nation.

Last night it took Kane just 11 minutes to arrive at the 2018 World Cup, but this was his ‘Alan Shearer moment’.

This Three Lions performance was all about Kane.

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The Spurs man was undoubtedly disappointing at Euro 2016 in France - ridiculed, mocked and slammed as a one season wonder by his harshest critics, although they won’t be laughing now.

The England captain shone like a beacon, netting two well-taken goals to hand England a crucial 2-1 win against Tunisia, their first win in the opening game of a major tournament since 2006.

In truth Kane didn’t do much else in the game other than be in the right place at the right time on two occasions, but this is the striker all over and this is why head coach Gareth Southgate made the 24-year-old his captain prior to the tournament.

Kane’s importance to this current England set-up cannot be underestimated.

A vastly inexperienced group of players need peers to be influenced by and they cannot look any further than their talisman for an indication as to what sort of standard they should be at.

The man who spent time on loan at four Football League clubs before being handed the chance to shine at Spurs has experienced a meteoric rise to the top, amassing 108 goals in 150 Spurs appearances and 15 international goals in his first 25 games for his country, making him one of the most feared marksmen in world football.

Although Kane stole the majority of the plaudits with his match-winning performance, there was also a lot of positive stuff from the rest of the England team, whilst other aspects naturally remain a work in progress.

Southgate must take a large slice of credit for the way in which he has instilled a new-found confidence in this young group of players in such a short space of time.

In previous tournaments the enjoyment factor and togetherness simply hasn’t been evident, yet under Southgate that now seems a trait of England past and that can only bode well for the future.

The style of football is something that people will have to be patient with.

The boss has already said he has faith in this system and supporters will need to bear with Southgate.

At times against Tunisia it was a frustrating watch, particularly in the second half when England kept the ball moving around the pitch in scenic fashion, but without ever really showing the sort of creativity that might be needed to break down the better teams.

For now, England must focus on beating Panama and they can’t afford to take too much notice of the fact that they are the weakest side in their group.

For 45 minutes they kept Belgium at bay and it is vital that England play their normal game and hopefully let the goals flow.

With Kane at the forefront of a new-look England side, the goals look set to flow for many years to come.

One season wonder? How foolish do you look now?