England defeated Iran 6-2 to start their World Cup campaign in Doha in a resoundingly emphatic manner.
More off-field controversy surrounded the game in Qatar when England were compelled to abandon their plans to wear the OneLove armband, a symbol of unity and acceptance, after Fifa threatened to issue a warning if they did so.
Iran’s bleak situation was made worse by the early loss of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand to concussion following a collision with a teammate as Gareth Southgate’s team cruised to victory.
Ten minutes before halftime, Jude Bellingham gave England their first World Cup goal with a powerful header from Luke Shaw’s cross. Saka’s fine strike and Raheem Sterling’s graceful outside-of-the-foot volley from Harry Kane’s cross sealed the victory before the break.
Mehdi Taremi’s fine goal after 65 minutes gave Iran’s supporters a real thrill, but England’s ruthless response saw Saka score his second and substitute Marcus Rashford score on his debut with both goals being composed, smooth shots.
Jack Grealish scored from close range following a strong run and pullback by Callum Wilson to round off an exceptionally dominant performance.
After a John Stones foul, Taremi converted a penalty to give Iran a one-point advantage in the final minutes of the game.
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