Doha: England began their campaign with an emphatic 6-2 victory over Iran in the men’s FIFA World Cup here on Monday.
England gave a sterling performance as it was only for the second time in a match at any major tournament that they peeled off five-plus goals after they achieved it way back in 2018 World Cup by beating Panama 6-1.
From the word go, Gareth Southgate’s team looked in total command and were clinical with their finishing throughout the match.
Out of the six goals scored, Bukayo Saka scored two. He fired the first one in the first and the next in the second half. Other goal scorers were Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish.
Rashford, particularly, was incredible as he fired the goal just 49 seconds after coming on for England, the third-quickest goal by a substitute in World Cup history.
For Iran, both the goals were scored by Mehdi Taremi. He got one through in the 65th minute and then converted a penalty after a foul by centre-back John Stones at the death.
At the break, England were mercilessly ahead, scoring three goals to nil.
The match started off with an injury early on after Iranian keeper Alireza Beiranvand sustained a severe head injury, forcing the referee to add 14 minutes of stoppage-time. He was finally replaced after going to the ground for a second time and stretchered thereafter from the pitch.
England found their rhythm though, and Harry Maguire lept in the air to hit the crossbar with a header before JUde Bellingham clipped them ahead with a spectacular finish.
Saka then volleyed a second into the top corner, and Sterling added a third minutes later after a quick England break.
In the 35th minute, an unmarked Belligham helped the cross from Luke Shaw, leaving Hossein Hosseini stranded as it nestled into the back of the net for his first England goal.
Eight minutes later, Kieran Tippier picked Maguire who nodded down to Saka, who let it bounce in front of him before volleying it into the top corner for England’s second goal.
In the 45th, Kane squared a dangerous low cross into the near post and put it on a plate for Sterling, who fired it past Hosseini for the third goal.
Iran, on the flipside, struggled to get into the game and weren’t helped by losing their keeper early on.
With this win, England took early lead in Group B by garnering three points, and face USA in their next game on Friday, while Iran dropped to the bottom of the table, with Wales challenge next up for them.