VOLGORAD, Russia - Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul was left to ponder what might have been as his side almost held England to a draw Monday and instead was left paying tribute to two-goal Harry Kane
"It was Kane who won this match for England," Maaloul told reporters after the England captain's 91st-minute winner had left some of his players in tears at the final whistle. "It was him who was always there at the right time. He is the optimal striker," he said after the obdurate north Africans, who lost their goalkeeper to injury in the 13th minute, went down 2-1.
"The spaces that were created by Kane were very scary to us," said Maaloul, whose side's reputation as solid defenders was put to a severe test as England created chance after chance in a dominant opening half-hour.
Kane put England ahead in the 11th minute but Ferjani Sassi's penalty levelled matters 10 minutes before half-time from the penalty spot only for Tunisia's hearts to be broken by Kane's second goal in the dying moments.
"We were playing against a highly-skilled and highly co-ordinated team in terms of their forward players. If we were to get a draw, it would have been an excellent result for us," lamented Maaloul, who is in his second stint as Tunisia boss. But hopefully this will lead to higher levels of concentration in the coming games."