England’s Fifa World Cup campaign opened in thoroughly convincing fashion as they outclassed Iran 6-2 in an incident-packed match in the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Doha.
Gareth Southgate’s side strolled to victory, with Iran’s hopeless plight made worse by the early loss of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand to concussion after a clash of heads with team-mate Majid Hosseini.
Jude Bellingham got England off the mark in this World Cup with a soaring header from Luke Shaw’s cross 10 minutes before the break and the game was wrapped up before half-time thanks to Bukayo Saka’s fine strike and Raheem Sterling’s classy volley with the outside of his foot from Harry Kane’s cross.
Saka got his second before Iran’s supporters were given a moment of real delight when Mehdi Taremi scored a fine goal after 65 minutes – but England substitute Marcus Rashford then netted another smooth, composed strike with his first involvement.
To put the gloss on an incredibly dominant display, Jack Grealish slotted home from close range after a good run and pull back by Callum Wilson.
Iran did pull another back in injury time when Taremi slotted in a penalty after a John Stones foul.
The game was played out against the backdrop of more off-field controversy here in Qatar after England were forced to ditch plans to wear the OneLove armband promoting diversity and inclusivity under threat from Fifa of players being cautioned should they carry out the gesture of support.
Netherlands 2, Senegal 0
In the final match of the day, two late goals from the Netherlands sealed an important 2-0 victory in their World Cup opener against Senegal in Group A.
PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo beat Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to the ball when it was chipped in by Frenkie de Jong to nod the Dutch in front with six minutes remaining.
Substitute Davy Klaassen then pounced on a rebound from Memphis Depay’s shot to add a second deep into stoppage-time to confirm the success.
Gakpo whirled away in celebration in front of the Senegal fans behind the goal as the Dutch supporters, together in a sea of orange at the other end of the Al Thumama Stadium, rose to their feet.
They were already chanting their team’s name as they knew victory was near before Klaassen made sure in the ninth and final minute of injury time.
Senegal, who had threatened throughout the match, came close to equalising before that when Papa Gueye fired a finish towards the bottom left corner, but Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert got his fingertips to it. (BBC)