DOHA, Qatar – England started their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign in style by beating Iran 6-2 thanks to a brace from Bukayo Saki and efforts from Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish.

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Bellingham opened the scoring with his first England goal in the 35th minute, while Sterling and Saka helped Gareth Southgate’s team to a comfortable 3-0 lead before half-time.

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Saka made a brilliant one-man effort to put England out of the spotlight just past the hour mark before Mehdi Taremi scored a consolation ball for Iran, but substitutes Rashford and Grealish brightened up the Three Lions’ Group B first leg despite stoppage time. Taremi.

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JUMP ON: Player Ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and Notable Moments | Post match quotes | Key statistics | Upcoming matches


Fast reaction

one. England makes a football statement, Iran makes a political one

A day that began with a brawl over One Love anti-discrimination armbands as England sought to make a political statement ended with Gareth Southgate’s team making a football statement as they pulled off a superb victory. Amid the threat of a yellow card to captain Harry Kane due to FIFA’s refusal to grant special permission to seven countries planning to wear the armband, England withdrew the gesture just three hours before kick-off.

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However, the altercation had little effect on England’s play, nor did the 10-minute delay as Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand suffered a concussion only to try to continue the game before starting his own substitution in a bizarre and convoluted display of supposed protocols. Three goals in an 11-minute blitz turned what looked awkward on paper into a relative walk here at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Although England took a knee before the start in continuation of the anti-racism message they sent at last summer’s postponed European Championship. Meanwhile, the Iranian players did not sing along to their national anthem before the match. While no one in their camp has confirmed the cause, it comes amid more than two months of protests in Iran sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the country’s vice police, which has created one of the boldest challenges to the country’s spiritual leaders since the Islamic Revolution. 1979.

2. Bellingham lives up to the hype to give England hope

The biggest highlight for his England squad since reaching the Euro 2020 final last year was the arrival of Jude Bellingham, a central midfielder capable of adding the dynamism and ingenuity on the pitch that England have been missing for years. Consequently, there were high hopes for the 19-year-old as he made only his ninth international start and on Monday became the third-youngest player to start a World Cup match for England.

It could hardly have gone better. Bellingham rose masterfully and in the 35th minute with a superb header passed Luke Shaw to score the first goal in what was the apotheosis of the first half, in which he completed all 40 pass attempts, 10 of which came in the last third. This goal meant that he became the first player born in this century to score in a World Cup. Bellingham was at the center of England’s third goal, moving forward and finding Kane, who in turn allowed Raheem Sterling to finish at the near post for the first time.

Bellingham’s judicious use of the ball already seems integral to giving England attackers the kind of serve they can thrive on. It’s a long road ahead, but it was a very promising start – and no doubt caught the attention of the top clubs eyeing the Borussia Dortmund star, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

3. System change shows England doing its best to move forward

The debate over England manager Gareth Southgate is that when he plays with three defenders, England are too cautious, but when they play with four defenders, England tend to be more attacking. Southgate’s opinion is based on England’s usual tournament setbacks prior to his appointment in 2016 – losing the ball in midfield is too predictable in open play to name just two – and he often favors the safety of an additional centre-back to help offset these limitations.

But the growing argument is that this group of players are talented enough to be trusted to play a more expansive style without their inherent caution, and England’s 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation is more likely than 3- The 4-3 used in previous games was the right decision as Southgate’s side were full of talent and ingenuity. The compact and well-prepared Iranian team, although clearly focused on defense before losing the game, simply couldn’t handle it, and Southgate’s depth of attacking talent was shown by substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish, who both found the net.

There were still a few defensive problems – Mehdi Taremi scored a lovely consolation goal in the 65th minute before adding a second into stoppage time from a VAR check penalty – but Southgate’s demands to remove the handbrake will only increase after that.


Player ratings (1 = worst, 10 = best)

England: Pickford 7, Trippier 7, Stones 7, Maguire 7, Shaw 7, Bellingham 9, Rice 7, Mount 8, Saka 9, Kane 8, Sterling 8.

Subscriptions: Dyer 7, Rashford 7, Grealish 7, Foden 7, Wilson 7.

Iran: Beiranvand 5, Moharrami 4, Pouraliganji 4, Cheshmi 4, Hosseini 4, Mohammadi 4, Jahanbakhsh 5, Nurollahi 5, Karimi 5, Hajsafi 5, Taremi 6.

Subscriptions: Hosseini 4, Ezatolahi 5, Golizadeh 5, Toradi 5, Azmoun 5.


Best and Worst Performers

BEST: Jude Bellingham

The first goal set the tone for a team performance and was the basis of many of England’s best games.

WORST: Hossein Hosseini

It is difficult to come after Beiranvand received a concussion, but he was beaten too lightly more than once.


Highlights and Notable Moments

When England scores goals in the World Cup, there is only one place to get the biggest reaction from the fans: BOXPARK Croydon. Here’s how the fans celebrated Jude Bellingham’s first leg at 35 minutes.

And the revelers barely had time to pour themselves a fresh pint before England scored two more goals to finish 3-0 at half-time.


After the match: what the players and managers said

Quotes after the match will appear here…


Basic statistics (provided by Sportzshala Stats & Information)

Jude Bellingham became the first player born in this century to score in a World Cup.

At 19 years and 145 days old, Bellingham is England’s third-youngest scorer in the World Cup. Michael Owen scored two goals in the 1998 World Cup at the age of 18 years 191 days and 18 years 198 days.

At 21 years and 77 days old, Bukayo Saka became the youngest England international to score multiple goals in a World Cup.

It was the first time England had scored three goals in the opening match of the World Cup since 1982 and the first time they had scored three goals in the first half of the first half.

Marcus Rashford became only the fourth substitute to score for England in the World Cup, and the first since Steven Gerrard against Sweden in 2006.

Harry Kane became the first English player to score two assists in a World Cup match since David Beckham’s match against Trinidad and Tobago in 2006.

England’s six goals against Iran are the most they have ever scored in a World Cup match, along with the six they scored in a 6-1 win over Panama in 2018.

England joined Germany as the only team in the last 30 years of the World Cup to score six or more goals in the first leg. In 2002, Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0 in match number 1 and reached the final losing.


Next

England: After a terrific performance against Iran, England may feel that Friday’s Group B game against the United States (starting at 2pm ET) is a long way off. The Americans, however, are superior to the Three Lions: they shocked them with a 1-0 victory in the 1950 World Cup and then drew 1-1 in the 2010 tournament. They then close out the group stage against neighboring Wales, whom they beat 2-1 the last time they met in a tournament at Euro 2016 on November 29 at 2pm ET.

Iran: Following this humiliation, Iran will face Gareth Bale and company on Friday at 5:00 pm ET, and then play the United States in a rematch of their memorable 1998 World Cup encounter at 2:00 pm ET on November 29.