WORLD CUP: England run rampant in 6-2 thumping of Iran


England kicked off their 2022 World Cup campaign in style as they beat Iran in a 6-2 thrashing thanks to a brace from Bukayo Saka and efforts from Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish.

Bellingham opened the scoring with his first England goal in the 35th minute while Sterling and Saka helped Gareth Southgate’s side establish a comfortable 3-0 lead before half-time.

Saka produced a brilliant individual effort to take England further out of sight just past the hour mark before Mehdi Taremi netted a consolation for Iran, but substitutes Rashford and Grealish put the gloss on the Three Lions’ Group B opener despite a stoppage-time penalty from Taremi.

A day which began with a row about anti-discrimination “One Love” armbands as England sought to make a political statement ended with Gareth Southgate’s side making a footballing one as they swept to a superb victory.

Amid the threat of a yellow card for captain Harry Kane due to FIFA refusing to grant special dispensation to the seven nations planning to wear the armband, England dropped the gesture just three hours before kick off.

The row did little to affect England’s performance, however, nor did a 10-minute delay as Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand suffered concussion only to try to carry on before initiating his own substitution in a bizarre and confused demonstration of the supposed protocols.

Three goals in an 11-minute blitz made what looked an awkward-looking fixture on paper a relative stroll here at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Although England took a knee before kick-off in a continuation of the anti-racism message they sent at last summer’s delayed European Championship, perhaps the biggest show of defiance came from the Iran players, who refused to sing the national anthem before kick-off in what appeared a show of solidarity for protesters in their home country. (ESPN)

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