An easy 6-2 victory over Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan meant that England got off to the best possible start in their FIFA World Cup campaign.
QATAR 2022: Saka shines, Maguire makes assist, Bellingham sets record as England thrash Iran
England got off to a good start in their Group B opener.
A brace from Bukayo Saka, and goals from Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish were enough to see the Three Lions grab three points over the Iran who got two thanks to Mehdi Taremi.
The win saw Gareth Southgate surpass Sir Alf Ramsey as the Three Lions' manager with the most victories at major tournaments (nine).
Starting with a back four in a surprising 4-2-3-1 formation, Gareth Southgate chose to be more daring than usual, knowing that Iran would choose to sit back and soak up pressure, so England started with a formation that could allow them transition to a 2-1-4-3 when attacking.
Iran also tweaked their formation slightly with a 4-3-3 that wasn't too far from their usual 4-1-4-1. As expected, Iran entered the game with extreme caution and barely got out of their own defensive third, inviting pressure hoping to hit England on the counter with the pace of Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Ehsan Haji Safi on the wings.
Iran had zero shots in the game until the 44th minute of the first half and did not have a shot on goal throughout the first half.
In that time, England had scored thrice through midfielder Jude Bellingham, Arsenal youngster, Bukayo Saka, and Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling.
England were completely dominant, and had 82% of possession as the Iranians struggled to stem the leak at the back.
Iran made three changes, no less, during the half time break as theysought to remedy their atrocious first half.
They brought in Hossein Kanaani, Ali Gholizadeh, and Saeid Ezatolahi for Roozbeh Cheshmi, Jahanbakhsh, and Ali Karmi respectively, and reshuffled their approach to try and get back into the game.
Things got worse before they got better for Iran as Saka claimed a second goal just after the hour mark to make it 4-0 to England. Three minutes after Saka’s second, Iran’s Talisman Mehdi Taremi pulled one back for them.
After England made four substitutions within one minute, one of the new entrants, Marcus Rashford, extended their lead to 5-1, and as the game crawled to and end, two other substitutes, Callum Wilson, and Jack Grealish combined to make it 6-1, with Grealish applying the finishing touch.
There was still one more moment of note well into extra time as England conceded a 100th minute penalty that was duly by Taremi.
As Taremi stroked home his second goal of the match from the spot, he crossed to 30 goals for Iran, becoming the second highest scoring Iranian player currently active.
What next for England and Iran at the World Cup?
With six goals conceded England, Iran have now let in more than half the number of goals they let in during their last three trips to the World Cup combined, in just one match.
With other stern tests in the group, they'll gave to go back to the drawing board to re-evaluate their options and invent new ways to tackle those fixtures.
The win saw Gareth Southgate surpass Sir Alf Ramsey as the Three Lions' manager with the most victories at major tournaments (nine), and he will look to extend that record when England come up against Wales. that record when