At this stage last year The Three Lions were on their way home, 2 losses and one tie and bottom of their group at Brazil 2014.
On Sunday lunchtime I joined a massive crowd at Leeds' Millenium Square to support England, like Fan Zones in hundreds of towns up and down the country on the hottest day of the year. After full time I walked to my bus stop and passed packed pubs with fans still singing, chanting, dancing and drinking in the euphoria of a record breaking 6-1 victory. It was the biggest ever win for our lads at a World Cup finals tournament.. At my stop there were three young Panamanian ladies in national jerseys and face paint. I gave them the thumbs up. UN GOL ! Si !
It was the Canaleros first ever World Cup appearance. After a 2-1 come from behind victory last November at home to Costa Rica, they advanced over USA, BUT their first goal never even crossed the line. Roman Torres of Seattle Sounders scored twice at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in front of 32,000 fans.
Manager Hernan Dario Gomes admitted that his team were frightened at half time, trailing 5-0, and he went over to Gareth Southgate to tell him how they would not be as rough in the area in the second half and congratulated him on his team. I was present in Wembley Stadium in 1966 to see Sir Geoff Hurst's World Cup final hat trick v West Germany and on TV watched Gary Linecker's v Poland in 1986.
The 6-1 record score brings them level with Belgium and one less yellow card 2 against 3. The winner of group G after they meet in Kaliningrad on Thursday will top the group and play the round of 16 match in Rostov on Don while the runner up will play in Spartak Stadium in Moscow. Besides the obvious hat tick from Captain Kane, leader in the Golden Boot race, I am impressed with Jesse Lingard, Kieran Trippier and John Stones in particular.
I refuse to get carried away at this stage half way through this exciting tournament. Referee Geha Grisha had enough of the wrestling and dissent and time wasting from the Panamanians, and gave t clear cut penalties against an overmatched and unruly bunch.
What can you say about Die Mannschaft? Defending champions from four years ago they looked very ordinary against an equally ordinary Swedish team with 1-1 seeming to be the resut until after 5 minutes of added time Tony Kroos scored a marvelous goal to take the 3 points. Never underestimate the Germans.
A few players and officials in the dock so far. Both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri are both ethinic Albanian/ Kosovans who gave the double eagle hand signal after their match with Serbia. Shaqiri also has a small Swiss flag on one boot and a Kosovan one on the other. Both charged by FIFA along with team mate Stepen Lichensteiner who made the same sign. The Serbians were livid. They don't recognize Kosova. If you attempt to visit Kosova and get a stamp in your passport you will be denied entry to Serbia. Serbia are also in the dock for the comments of their manager and the behaviour of their fans.
The Dansk Bold Union has already been fined 20,000 Swiss Francs(about £15,000) for the action of their fans against Australia, for chants and a sexist banner. DFB sideline officials Ulrich Voigt and Georg Behlau are also charged after their 'In your face' pumped fisted aggresion towards their Swedish counterparts after Tony Kroos' winner.