England quick off the blocks as they hit Iran for 6
By Louie Russo Brownlie
England’s World Cup campaign got off to the perfect start as they thrashed Iran by six goals to two.
18 months on from their crushing defeat in the Euro’s final the Three Lions had a point to prove and quickly started to take hold of proceedings. Harry Maguire found himself within the thick of the action in the early stages as he saw a penalty appeal waved away and then slammed a header against the crossbar.
Gareth Southgate’s men would not be denied for long however, as 19-Year-Old Jude Bellingham glanced in his first goal for his country (35) from a wicked Luke Shaw cross.
England were really starting to purr now and hit a quick fire double to take the game away from Iran. First Bukayo Saka, who infamously missed the decisive penalty against Italy, volleyed home expertly (43) from a Maguire knockdown. Then Raheem Sterling made it three (45+1) after it was put on a plate for him by skipper Harry Kane.
The game continued in the same vein in the second period with Iran immensely struggling to deal with England’s intensity and quality and before long it was four. Saka again was the scorer as he danced past a couple of challenges and rolled the ball into the bottom corner (62.)
However, with their first real attack of proceedings, Iran quickly pulled a goal back. Mehdi Taremi finished brilliantly into the roof of the net (65) to get his country off the mark at this world cup.
Any hopes of a miraculous comeback were quickly pushed aside as Marcus Rashford, another who missed in the shootout against Italy, silkily finished just after arriving on a substitute (71.)
Two more substitutes combined to add England’s sixth as World Cup debutant Callum Wilson selflessly cutback for Jack Grealish to tap into an empty net (90.)
There was a final blemish as Iran were given a late penalty which Taremi confidently converted past Joran Pickford to double his and his countries goals for the evening.
This could not dampen England’s spirit however, as they took an early lead of Group B and are sure to have had their confidence boosted by this result.
Man of the Match – Bukayo Saka
If there was any Englishmen who deserved a brilliant opening to this World Cup it is Bukayo Saka. The winger experienced a crushing moment in the Euro final last summer but has roared back since then for England and Arsenal alike.
Throughout the 90 minutes Saka caused Iran a host of problems, regularly cutting in on his left which gave balance to the England attack. His ability and composure is far higher than an amount normal a 21-year-old and if he keeps up this sort of form, he will cause issues for any country he faces.
Who’s up next?
Iran will face Wales in the earlier kick off while England will face the USA in an attempt to extend their lead at the top of the group.