England dominated Iran 6-2 in their opening game of the 2022 World Cup.
Jude Bellingham opened the scoring with a well-taken header before Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling extended England’s lead in the first half.
Saka scored a fourth for Gareth Southgate’s side in the second half before Mehdi Taremi pulled one back for Iran. Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish scored late in the second half to add gloss to the result for England, while Taremi managed a late consolation goal from the spot.
DOHA, Qatar — England made a scintillating start to their World Cup campaign as Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham inspired a 6-2 rout of outclassed Iran in Monday’s Group B opener in Doha.
Saka and Bellingham were England’s driving forces with dynamic displays that underlined their emergence as two of the game’s brightest young stars.
Bellingham, 19, shattered Iran’s hopes of frustrating England when he rose to head his maiden senior international goal in the first half. The goal made Bellingham the youngest England scorer at a World Cup since Michael Owen in 1998 and the first player born in 2000 or later ever to score in the finals.
Gareth Southgate’s side was in sparkling form at the Khalifa International Stadium and goals from Saka and Raheem Sterling put them in complete control before half-time.
Saka, 21, netted again after the interval and, although Mehdi Taremi struck twice for Iran, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish completed the demolition.
There will be far sterner tests to come for England as they bid to win their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
But this was a welcome step in the right direction for Southgate, whose team arrived in Qatar on a six-match winless run that triggered scathing criticism of the Three Lions boss and his perceived negative tactics.
The only concern for Southgate was the sight of Harry Maguire being replaced in the second half after being checked for a potential head injury.
England play their second match against the United States on Friday and conclude their Group B fixtures against Wales on November 29.
ENG — Jude Bellingham (Luke Shaw) — 35th minute.
ENG — Bukayo Saka (Harry Maguire) — 43th minute.
ENG — Raheem Sterling (Harry Kane) — 45th minute +1.
ENG — Bukayo Saka (Raheem Sterling) — 62nd minute.
IRN — Mehdi Taremi (Ali Gholizadeh) — 65th minute
ENG — Marcus Rashford (Harry Kane) — 71st minute.
ENG — Jack Grealish (Callum Wilson) — 89th minute.
IRN — Mehdi Taremi (penalty) — 90th minute+13