To the casual observer, 18 June would have passed by unnoticed.
To football fans, it was a day that three notorious footballing underachievers began their journey hoping to escape their respective stereotypes.
The three European teams in question, England, Belguim, and Sweden, overcame their African, Central American and Asian opponents respectively.
First up, Sweden (1958 runners-up and 1994 semi-finalists) defeated Korea Republic 1–0. The statisticians may have you believe that Sweden dominated this game but Korea were worthy opponents.
A penalty kick from Andreas Granqvist in the 65th minute was all that separated the sides. Koreas work ethic was exemplary and they were unlucky to leave empty-handed.
Belguim, a nation who competed in the first edition of this tournament in 1930, was paired against Central American minnows Panama. Panama was brave and adventurous getting to halftime without conceding a goal while also reminding the Belgians that this would be no cakewalk.
Sadly for the Panamanians, Belgium overcame their initial nerves to score three goals in the second half courtesy of Dries Mertens and a brace from Romelu Lukaku.
England, winners in 1966, seemingly cursed by its own media’s overzealous and frenetic coverage of its national team, beat the number one ranked African team, Tunisia 2–1.
Tunisia had little to work with as a well organised English defence broke down every attack with ease. Tunisia’s only goal was from a questionable penalty decision by Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan. The spot kick was converted by Ferjani Sassi.
Harry Kane put in a true captain’s performance as he contributed with two goals in the 11th and 91st minute.
Harry Kane has more World Cup goals in 90 minutes than Wayne Rooney managed in his entire career. pic.twitter.com/uSjsGx7RHG
— bet365 (@bet365) June 18, 2018
Tomorrow’s final first round group games are between Colombia and Japan followed by Senegal and Poland.