He had never scored in a major tournament. It is also true that this season with Tottenham, he went missing in the biggest Champions League matches against Real Madrid and Juventus.
However, despite the precautions, it would appear that the Three Lions digested their fair share of mosquito matter over the course of the night, with two-goal hero Harry Kane detailing the extent of the irritation.
It's one thing having to deal with a bunch of sticky Tunisian defenders but having to simultaneously swat away insects makes things a whole lot more challenging.
But Harry Maguire won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the victor before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.
Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header.
"We created so many clear cut chances, especially in the first half, and were in total control in the second half".
Dele Alli and Harry Maguire were both denied by fine saves before Kane turned in an 11th minute rebound. It costs them two goals and the match.
It was such an instinctive reaction which summed up how much Southgate relies on his main man Harry Kane in key moments.
I am so proud of the team, we fought until the end.
"Panama were obdurate opponents against Belgium for 45 minutes, so we'll have to prepare 100 per cent for that game to get the right result".
Kane largely disappeared for the 80 minutes that separated his goals, but he has that indefinable quality that elevates great strikers above the rest - he will always, somehow, find a way to earn one last chance, and one is generally all he needs. I'll take playing like that in every game if it means we win every game 2-1 like that!
However hard it was to break through, the English attack achieved its most shots on target in the first half at a World Cup since 1966 - the only time the team won the trophy.
More than 18 million were glued to their TVs for the match, which saw victory secured thanks to a late victor from Harry Kane.
Kane's early goal capped a blistering start from Gareth Southgate's side and Merson was full of praise for their early work.
"I'm delighted for him because if he doesn't score tonight it'd be questions about him not scoring in tournaments".
England face Panama in their next game on Sunday.
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