England were in fine form as they breezed past an uninspired Iran side at the Khalifa stadium in Qatar.
England could not have wished for a better start to their 2022 World Cup campaign as they brushed aside an uninspired Iran side with goals from Bellingham, Saka, Sterling, Rashford and Grealish.
The match started slowly after Iran’s keeper Beranvand suffered a head injury as he came for a cross and clashed with a teammate. It took more than eight minutes for the keeper to be removed from the pitch despite the strict concussion protocol being introduced by FIFA for the tournament.
Shortly after the match restarted, England’s Harry Maguire came close with a powerful header that crashed against the bar.
Dortmund’s Bellingham then opened the scoring in the 35th minute, guiding in a header from a whipped cross from Luke Shaw.
Maguire was involved in England’s second in the 43rd minute after cushioning Shaw’s cross and setting up Bukayo Saka, who fired the ball into the top right corner.
Raheem Sterling made it three before the break after meeting a Harry Kane cross and steering the ball in the bottom right.
The Three Lions continued to dominate in the second half, with Bukayo grabbing his second as he danced past a few Iranian defenders and steered it into the bottom corner.
Iranian fans, who had been in good voice during the first half, began to leave just as Taremi lashed a fine strike past a helpless Pickford.
However, any hope for Iran was short-lived, as Rashford grabbed a fifth just a few minutes after being brought on by manager Gareth Southgate. The Manchester United forward showed remarkable composure taking a couple of touches before stroking it into the bottom corner.
It was set to go from bad to worse for Team Melli after another substitute Jack Grealish, struck a sixth, casually passing the ball past the Iranian defense and into the bottom corner.
As the game moved into ten minutes of injury time, Iran were awarded a penalty after a VAR review. Taremi calmly slotted in his side’s second consolation goal to muted celebrations from his teammates.
Today’s victory will be a huge morale boost for England, who will be clear favorites to top the group, which includes Wales and USA.
Iran will need a much better performance if they are to stand any chance of progressing. They have never made it past the group stage at a World Cup.
The win against Iran is now England’s second-best World Cup performance after their 6-1 triumph against Panama back in 2018.
The game, billed as a sporting display as well as one with geopolitical undertones, started on a controversial note as the Iranian team refused to sing their national anthem at the start of the game.
It was a striking act of solidarity with protesters back at home, a situation that began in September when a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Aminidied while in the custody of the Iranian morality police.
Protests have since spread across the nation, challenging the authority of the government even as security forces have cracked down. Hundreds of people have died in the violence.
Before Monday’s game, there were chants of “Say her name, Mahsa Amini” among protesters outside the stadium.