Saka in the double as England hit Iran with a six-man
Doha: England got Globalism The cup campaign got off to a flying start as they rattled goals past a stunned Iran and cruised to a stunning 6-2 Group B victory on Monday returning just in time to make up Gareth Southgate’s side.
England went into the tournament winless in six matches, but a dynamic opener over 45 minutes saw Jude Bellingham score his first England goal, Bukayo Saka doubled the lead and Raheem Sterling grabbed a third in the second half.
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Saka’s second goal after the break allowed them to take their foot off the gas and opened the door for Iran to strike the deficit through Mehdi Tarimi, before substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish sealed England’s goal.
And Iran got a penalty kick for pulling a minor shirt, after reviewing the video assistant referee, which Tarimi converted in the 13th minute of stoppage time.
England’s cause was helped when influential Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was forced off the field after 20 minutes after a sensational clash of heads with a team-mate, but they took full advantage.
Bellingham, the 19-year-old England midfielder, emphasized why some of Europe’s biggest clubs have him in their sights, as he glided like a Rolls-Royce in the engine room and his opening goal set England on course at Khalifa International Stadium.
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Timing his run perfectly, Bellingham rose to meet Luke Shaw’s cross from the left, and looped a header over the keeper into the top corner in the 35th minute to become the first player born in or after 2000 to score in a World Cup.
Shaw was again the striker for England’s second goal as his corner kick bounced across the area from Harry Maguire to Saka, who fired brilliantly into the top corner.
The game then effectively ended as a contest when Sterling added a third, finishing with the outside of his boot on a volley from a Harry Kane cross after Bellingham had once again been involved in build-up.
England didn’t get up, though, as Saka grabbed his second goal in the 62nd minute.
Sterling, whose place in the team was under scrutiny after Chelsea’s mixed form, switched to midfield and fed Saka, who slammed in and then out, before dropping his shoulder and quietly volleying the ball into the bottom corner.
Iran pulled one back when Vahid Amiri fed Tarimi and fired into the top corner past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but Rashford made a flurry of England substitutions in the 70th minute and cut inside a defender before his side cut through five moments later.
England’s Grealish came back in sixth from close range in the 90th minute after fellow substitute Callum Wilson crossed in from the right before Taremi slotted home a late penalty. They will next face the United States on Friday when Iran faces Wales.
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