England thrashed Iran 6-2 in the opening round of their Group B World Cup match in Qatar, with two youngsters in the squad, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, putting in strong performances.
The 19-year-old Jude Bellingham scored the first goal for England, becoming the second youngest player in England’s World Cup history to score a goal behind Michael Owen, who was 18 at the time in 1998.
21-year-old Bukayo Saka was the man of the match after scoring twice, dribbling down the right and dodging past defenders to score in the 62nd minute.
England captain Harry Kane was the mainstay of the team’s attacking line, with two assists in the match. Kane is now just two goals shy of Wayne Rooney’s all-time England goalscoring record.
The match was played at the Caliphate International Stadium and England and Iran have never played each other in an international tournament before. Iran has conceded zero goals in their last two World Cup debuts, but the defence was hit hard shortly after the start of the match, with star goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand going off injured in the eighth minute after colliding with his own defender’s face.
England broke the silence in the 35th minute when Bellingham headed home from inside the box from Luke Shaw’s downward cross from the left. England added another goal in the 43rd minute from a corner kick when Harry Maguire’s header was swung in by Saka in front of the box. Three minutes later Iran struck again when Kane crossed from the right and Raheem Sterling followed up with a shot from the middle to make it 3-0 for England.
The Iranians made three changes at half-time, but there was little change in the game. The goal was again broken by Saka in the 62nd minute. Mehdi Taremi got one back for Iran in the 65th minute, but Rashford, who had just come on as a substitute, scored England’s fifth goal in the 71st minute. He burst into the box and fired a low left-footed shot after a great pass from Kane for his first World Cup goal. In the 90th minute, Bellingham attacked from the middle and Callum Wilson burst into the box alone and assisted Jack Grealish to push home an open goal.
Iran launched a succession of attacks before the end, with Sardar Azmoun hitting the crossbar with a powerful shot, before a free kick saw Iran awarded a penalty after the referee watched video replays, with Taremi scoring.
England will take on the USA in the second round of Group B, while Iran will face Wales.
Check out our other coverage of the 2022 World Cup:
- Qatar bans the sale of alcohol in stadiums during the World Cup
- How to stay cool during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Words: Fangyi He | Subbing: Yana Trup