England began their 2022 FIFA World Cup
campaign with a bang as Gareth Southgate’s side romped to a 6-2 victory over
Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar. A brace for Bukayo Saka and
goals from Jude Bellingham, and Raheem Sterling gave the Three Lions the
perfect start before substitutes Marcus Rahsford and Jack Grealish applied the
finishing touches in the closing stages to give England all three points in
their Group B opener.
It was an incident-packed event in Doha as
Iran suffered an early blow with goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand stretchered off
in the 19th minute after colliding with his team-mate Majid Hosseini while
defending a Harry Kane cross. The ten-minute delay robbed England of their
fluency in the opening period, but it didn’t take long for Gareth Southgate’s
side to display their superiority, with Jude Bellingham opening the scoring in
the 35th minute. The 19-year-old got on the end of Luke Shaw’s cross from
left-back and buried his header into the far post to score the first international
goal of his career.
Picked ahead of Manchester City’s Phil
Foden on the right wing, Bukayo Saka doubled England’s tally eight minutes
later, firing a stunning volley over a crowd of Iranian defenders into the top
corner. Raheem Sterling added a third moments later, expertly redirecting Harry
Kane’s fizzed cross into the net to give the Three Lions a comfortable
advantage heading into the break.
England’s dominance continued in the second
period, with Bukayo Saka grabbing his second goal just after the hour mark. The
Arsenal man cut inside onto his stronger left foot and lasered in a neat finish
past substitute goalkeeper Hosseini.
Iran managed to pull one goal back to give
their fans something to cheer. Porto striker Mehdi Taremi capitalised on a slow
reaction from Harry Maguire and lasered a strong finish past Jordan Pickford
into the roof of the net. Marcus Rashford restored England’s four-goal cushion
just 49 seconds after coming on as a substitute, slotting in a cool finish
following another Harry Kane assist. Two more substitutes combined to add
England’s sixth, as Callum Wilson unselfishly set up Jack Grealish to put the
gloss on the performance.
There was time for another Iranian consolation
in the dying moments. The VAR ruled that John Stones had pulled Morteza
Pouraliganji’s shirt deep into injury time to give the Asian side a penalty,
which was converted by Mehdi Taremi to make it 6-2.
This win takes Gareth Southgate’s side to
the top of Group B with three points, and England can cement their position as
group winners with another victory over the USA on Friday.