QATAR: Bukayo Saka scored twice and Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, and Jack Grealish also scored in England’s 6-2 victory over Iran to kick off their World Cup campaign.
England dominated Iran throughout the game
In the 35th minute, Bellingham scored his first England goal, and Sterling and Saka helped England take a comfortable 3-0 lead before the halftime break. Before Iran’s Mehdi Taremi scored a consolation goal just past the hour mark, Saka scored a brilliant individual effort to push England ahead of Iran in the game.
Substitutes Rashford and Grealish completed the Three Lions’ Group B debut despite Taremi’s penalty in stoppage time. Fans had issues with their tickets before the game because the FIFA app was down, leaving a lot of empty seats at the Khalifa International Stadium close to the start.
The Iranian players did not perform the anthem. After Mahsa Amini’s death in September following her arrest for wearing a headscarf incorrectly, many Iranian fans have accused the Iranian football squad of siding with the state’s violent retaliation on protesters.
According to media reports, Iran’s state television did not include footage of the players lining up during the anthem in its live broadcast. Iran suffered an early setback when goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collided with teammate Majid Hosseini. Beiranvand continued to play before being stretchered off in the 19th minute.
In the 32nd minute, Harry Maguire jumped high to convert a Kieran Trippier corner and nearly scored, but his header missed the crossbar. After that, Bellingham headed home unmarked from Luke Shaw’s lofted cross to give them the lead.
Before the half, England scored two quick goals to get ahead. England took a 43rd-minute lead thanks to Saka’s fine half-volley from a Maguire knockdown. In stoppage time, Sterling scored on the volley from a right-footed cross from Harry Kane, his first World Cup goal.
After the break, Iran had to limit their damage, but Saka punished them once more in the 62nd minute when he curled a low effort with his left boot past two defenders in the box and scored.
Three minutes later, however, Iran scored a goal out of nowhere when Taremi broke free of Maguire’s hesitation to sneak in and smash the ball past Jordan Pickford.
In the 71st minute, Rashford came on as a substitute and coolly scored his first goal at a major tournament to restore England’s four-goal lead. Grealish was able to score late on as he came home thanks to the selfless work of fellow substitute Callum Wilson.
When Sardar Azmoun raced through in the final minute to give Iran another consolation, Pickford made a fingertip save to turn his effort over the bar. Iran was granted a late punishment after a VAR check for a foul on Morteza Pouraliganji, notwithstanding, and Taremi opened home to bring back some pride for Iran.