Talk about a good start to a World Cup!
England got their campaign in Qatar off to a flying star as they inflicted a 6-2 defeat on Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Bukayo Saka’s brace, Jude Bellingham’s header and strikes from Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish gave the Three Lions a deserved three points in their Group B opener.
Mehdi Taremi scored two consolation goals for Iran – the second from a controversial VAR goal – but England were far superior.
It was an afternoon of firsts for Gareth Southgate’s rampant side, who underlined why they’re one of the favourites to win the tournament.
A slow start to the first half clicked into gear on 35 minutes as Jude Bellingham expertly headed Luke Shaw’s cross from the left in.
That is Bellingham’s first senior goal for England and at 19 years and 145 days old he becomes the second youngest player to score at a World Cup for the Three Lions behind Michael Owen (18 years 190 days).
Bukayo Saka made it 2-0 as he fired the ball in off the bar after being teed up by Harry Maguire – his first World Cup goal too.
The goals from Bellingham and 21-year-old Saka meant England have had two players aged 21 or under both score in a single World Cup game for the first time in their history.
But they weren’t done yet as Raheem Sterling netted his first World Cup goal as well, the Chelsea forward doing brilliantly to connect with Harry Kane’s menacing cross from close range in stoppage-time of the first half.
Saka then got his second and England’s fourth of the afternoon, the Arsenal star cutting inside on the right before guiding the ball into the corner of the net on 62 minutes.
In doing so, Saka overtook Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney, who’s England’s record goalscorer, for World Cup goals.
Southgate then made three changes and one of his substitutes – Marcus Rashford – made an immediate impact as he scored England’s fifth and his first goal at a major international tournament just 49 seconds after entering the fray.
Rashford netted with his first three touches of the match, and these were actually his first touches in England colours since missing a penalty in the final of Euro 2020.
The firsts continued to come as substitute Grealish rolled in his first goal at a major tournament for his country on 89 minutes to seal a 6-2 win, which is the first time that’s been the final score at a World Cup match.
It was a terrific team goal too – with 35 passes in the build up. That is the most passes in the build up to a goal at the World Cup on record since 1966, according to Opta.
Every England goalscorer against Iran netted their first-ever World Cup goal in this game and it’s also their biggest victory at a major tournament.
They’ve scored six goals in a major tournament game for the only the second time in their history, also doing so against Panama at the 2018 World Cup, where they won 6-1.
Although there was no first for Southgate, the manager achieved an impressive feat.
The win is Southgate’s ninth at major tournaments as England manager, overtaking the tally of legendary Three Lions boss Sir Alf Ramsey.
And we all know what happened when Sir Alf was in charge…
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