We’re not getting carried away. But FOOTBALL IS DEFINITELY COMING HOME
Oh the difference one minute, a corner, and one deftly-taken header can make.
Despite an overall performance that was exciting, energetic and the opposite of recent lacklustre Three Lions tournament showings, if England had only walked away from Monday’s match against Tunisia with a draw, then the knives would have been out for them.
Players would have been berated for missing chances, berated for their tattoos and berated as ‘same old England’, who let the country down time and again.
But, as Harry Kane nailed that finish in the 91st minute, suddenly one point was turned into three, and the boys were all-conquering heroes who were going to sweep Panama and Belgium aside before swatting away opposition in the knockout stages to win the whole thing, with King Harry scoring a hat-trick in the final.
Clearly, both reactions are too far one way or the other, but even the long-suffering, pessimistic England fan could have been forgiven for feeling a tinge of excitement at the sight of their team, for once, not panicking, and keeping their composure until the last moments to claim what was, undoubtedly, a deserved victory.
But, now, it’s time to officially get carried away. Unleash that pent-up euphoria and allow yourself to dream: because we have proof that England are actually going to triumph in Russia.
Well, Russia’s 3-1 victory in their match against Egypt on Tuesday night gave them their second group stage win in a row, following a 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia back on the opening day of the tournament.
For a side who had gone into the tournament on a long run without a victory, this has been an unexpectedly good start for them.
And, in fact, it turns out it’s actually a historically good start for them.
In fact, it turns out that it’s the first time they’ve won both their opening group games in 52 years.
And what happened 52 years ago?
Yes, that’s right, back in 1966, Russia - or the Soviet Union as they were then - beat North Korea 3-0 at Ayresome Park, Italy 1-0 at Roker Park, then polished off a perfect group stage with a 2-1 win against Chile, also at Roker Park.
They then beat Hungary 2-1 in the quarters, again at Roker Park, before losing 2-1 to West Germany in the semis at Goodison Park.
West Germany, of course, would then lose 4-2 after extra-time at Wembley to Alf Ramsey’s wingless wonders.
Fine, fine, it’s not exactly proof. And we’ve won one game, in the last minute, against Tunisia.
But come on, surely it’s time to take notice of some good omens. After all, 52 years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming…