England put World Cup debutants, Panama to the sword on Sunday, condemning the Central Americans to a 6-1 defeat.
One of the biggest themes of this World Cup so far has been the bigger soccer nations struggling to really get going. Already we have seen Germany lose to Mexico, Brazil held by Switzerland, and Argentina has only managed to salvage one point from their opening two games and face an early and embarrassing elimination from the tournament.
Things look like they're changing though, just in the nick of time for some teams. Defending champions Germany were also facing the real risk of heading home early as they went 1-0 down to Sweden on Saturday. Some heroics late-on, which included an incredible free kick, has ensured that they are still likely to make it into the round of sixteen.
One country that often finds themselves somewhere perhaps a rung below the favorites at World Cups is England. The nation where soccer came to be has only won the World Cup once, back in 1966, and it would probably be fair to say that most won't have been expecting this to be their year. A convincing win against Panama on Sunday, however, may have some English fans believing for the first time in a while.
THAT. WAS. EPIC.— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 24, 2018
England came out on fire, and Panama made FIFA World Cup history. Watch the highlights in our 90' in 90" ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ytBvL19ne7
Panama may not be the trickiest of opponents, but with the number of slip-ups from bigger nations so far England was right not to take them lightly. Two goals each from Harry Kane and John Stones, as well as one from Jesse Lingard, meant that the England players were 5-0 up by halftime. After the break, Kane completed his hat-trick and Panama scored a historic consolation goal, their first ever at a World Cup.
That win, along with their 2-1 victory over Tunisia on Monday, means England has already qualified for the next round with a game to spare. That game will be on Thursday against Belgium who has also already qualified. That will truly be the English players' first real test in this tournament. The match will decide which team tops the group which will in turn determine who they come up against in the final sixteen.