/ Sport WORLD CUP
Issued on: 21/11/2022 – 16:25
England’s Kieran Trippier, Jack Grealish and Jordan Pickford celebrate after their 6-2 win over Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar on November 21, 2022. © Carl Recine, Reuters England made a scintillating start to their World Cup campaign as Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham inspired a 6-2 rout of outclassed Iran in Monday’s Group B opener in Doha.
2022 FIFA World Cup © Studio graphique Saka and Bellingham were England’s driving forces with dynamic displays that underlined their emergence as two of the game’s brightest young stars.
Bellingham, 19, shattered Iran’s hopes of frustrating England when he rose to head his maiden senior international goal in the first half.
Gareth Southgate’s side were in sparkling form at the Khalifa International Stadium and goals from Saka and Raheem Sterling put them in complete control before half-time.
Saka, 21, netted again after the interval and, although Mehdi Taremi struck twice for Iran, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish completed the demolition.
There will be far sterner tests to come for England as they bid to win their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
But this was a welcome step in the right direction for Southgate, whose team arrived in Qatar on a six-match winless run that triggered scathing criticism of the Three Lions boss and his perceived negative tactics.
“We are really pleased to start in this way. Iran are usually very difficult to score against, so it’s a credit to our players, their movement and the quality of their finishing,” Southgate said.
England play their second match against the United States on Friday and conclude their Group B fixtures against Wales on November 29.
Just hours before kick-off, England revealed captain Harry Kane would not wear a rainbow-themed ‘One Love’ armband after the Football Association and several other European countries dropped their campaign in support of LGBTQ rights.
Because the armband was not a FIFA-approved piece of kit, it was reported any player wearing it would be booked — a risk England were apparently unwilling to take.