Saturday 21 July 2018

Martin O'Neill picks out England's star man and gives a damning verdict on VAR at the World Cup

Harry Kane is mobbed by his England team-mates – (from top) Jesse Lingard, Jordan
Henderson and John Stones – after heading home a late winner in his team’s World
Cup Group G opener against Tunisia last night Photo: Reuters
Harry Kane is mobbed by his England team-mates – (from top) Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson and John Stones – after heading home a late winner in his team’s World Cup Group G opener against Tunisia last night Photo: Reuters
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has identified Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson as England's star man in their opening World Cup Group G clash against Tunisia in Volgograd.

England captain Harry Kane stole all the headlines as his two goals secured a 2-1 win, yet O'Neill was quick to single out the Liverpool skipper for praise in his role as an ITV pundit.

"I thought he was really, really brilliant," declared O'Neill. "I have a lot of time for him because in his early days at Liverpool, he had a real struggle to win the fans over.

"He was playing side on the right hand side, then they moved him infield and it has taken him a bit of time. But I feel his experiences over the last few years for Liverpool, particularly playing Champions League football, has given him this confidence now.

"I thought (against Tunisia) he was excellent. He got off to a great start, played some great passes, great shots at goal in the opening few minutes of the game. Overall I thought he was excellent."

BBC pundit Frank Lampard was equally complimentary of Henderson's performance, after the Liverpool midfielder was picked ahead of Tottenham's Eric Dier.

"He carried on his recent form for Liverpool," stated Lampard.

"With Jordan Henderson, I wasn’t properly sure what kind of midfielder he was a couple of years ago, he was a bit of an all-rounder. But he’s certainly a leader, he’s matured on and off the pitch and he’s used real intelligence to take that role.

"He’s got great drive in him. The one question you mentioned is can he get a pass a bit earlier and we saw that he can tonight.

"You need a passer and you need the movement between the lines and we had that both, particularly in the first half."

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England’s Jordan Henderson was picked to start ahead of Eric Dier in the England side (Mike Egerton/PA)

O'Neill went on to express his bemusement at the use of VAR technology at the World Cup, after England were denied two clear penalties when Kane was man-handled by Tunisian players in the penalty box.

"What are the two words used when VAR comes up?" questioned O'Neill. "Clear and obvious (error). Well this has been going on four four days now and nothing is clear and obvious to me.

"I have no idea what is happening (with VAR) and I think the people running it have no idea either."

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