You are currently viewing England Vs Iran final score: Bukayo Saka fires Three Lions to thumping win in World Cup opener

England Vs Iran final score: Bukayo Saka fires Three Lions to thumping win in World Cup opener

England laid out an impressive marker for the tournament ahead on the first full day of action at the Qatar World Cup, Bukayo Saka their star man in a 6-2 demolition of Iran.

Though an injury and suspected concussion for Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand slowed the early momentum of the contest, it was not long before the Three Lions, set up in a more attacking fashion than many might have expected, broke through. Jude Bellingham became the second youngest England player to score at the tournament, trailing only Michael Owen, as he ghosted into the box to meet Luke Shaw’s cross in the 35th minute. The floodgates were open and Saka soon doubled the lead. By half time it was game over for Iran as Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling combined for the third.

On a day where all of England’s attackers (and a fair few defenders) sparkled, Saka was the undisputed star man and he drew level with Enner Valencia at the top of the early Golden Boot race with a wonderfully taken low drive. Had Gareth Southgate not made mass changes with the game well and truly out of reach for Iran, he might well have had a hat trick, though his replacement Marcus Rashford performed more than adequately. Kane dropped deep as is his wont and the Manchester United forward attacked the space he had vacated from the right, cutting onto his left and rolling the ball into the bottom corner. Their sixth was made on the bench, Callum Wilson unselfishly squaring for fellow substitute Jack Grealish to net his first goal on the biggest stage.

Level with Saka and Valencia on the scoring charts is Mehdi Taremi, who followed a thumping drive to take the scoreline to 4-1 with a cooly struck penalty in the 13th minute of added time, denying the Three Lions the chance to match their record winning margin at the World Cup. However, even as early as half time head coach Carlos Quieroz seemed to know the game was up, making three changes at the interval with one eye on the games to come against the USA and Wales. On this basis England will take a great deal of caching at the top of Group B.

Wonderkids give Southgate the dream start

This was just what England needed. For all their tournament success over the past four years their recent winless run in competitive games meant that their manager was leading his charges out with a sense of grumbling resentment, even some questions as to whether this could be Southgate’s last at the helm. The fan’s discontent was quelled somewhat by a progressive lineup but it was the performances of the youngsters who were trusted on the biggest stage that truly changed the mood.

Even before the breakthrough Saka was emphatically justifying his selection ahead of Phil Foden and others. Utterly fearless for a player whose previous tournament game had ended in heartbreak, he dovetailed dangerously with Kieran Trippier and always looked to up the tempo. His miscued early shot was the first time substitute goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini was tested and he provided a much better chance for Mason Mount. His goal came after Jude Bellingham, almost as bright from the outset, had opened the scoring but Saka’s was the archetypal England strike.

A well-delivered corner was knocked down by Harry Maguire, justifying his presence in the England defense with his attacking work, before Saka’s sweet volley deflected high into the net. Moments later the game was over, the old guard offering a reminder of the value of tournament experience. When the ball came to Kane down the right channel he needed only to hit the ball at the near post, confident that his team mate Sterling would be attacking that space. That he was.

By the time Saka drove in England’s fourth those familiar videos from Boxpark Croydon were back, lunchtime beers soaring into the sky in delight. Chants of “Southgate you’re the one” were heard mere months after the mutiny at Molineux. You could almost hear the rest of the planet willfully misunderstanding Three Lions all over again (“typical English arrogance”). Even from afar in Russia – and certainly up close last summer – the support of the nation proved to be a propulsive force for this squad. If they have won their country over again, this England team could be quite the contender.

Political events loom large on both sides

FIFA’s desire for a World Cup free from politics was never likely to be fulfilled (and frankly it is a ludicrous idea when this tournament has been a vehicle for the projection of soft power since its inception), in pushing for everyone to be quiet about events in Qatar they may merely have increased the volume on the conversation.

Before the match England were informed they would not be able to make the statement they wished through the wearing of ‘One Love’ armbands; had Kane followed through on the plan of European nations to wear the item he may well have begun the game on a booking. Still, there was nothing FIFA could do to stop the Three Lions taking the knee, nor to compel Iran to sing along to the national anthem, in what appeared to be a sign of solidarity as their government crack down on dissent in the republic. It was not entirely popular among Iranian supporters though there were plenty that backed the display.

A sizeable banner bearing the legend “Woman, life, freedom” over the Iran flag was raised high in the stadium as well as smaller placards that included the phrase “Freedom for Iran”. As is the case every four years, one of the biggest events in global television has proven to be a powerful medium for getting a message across. How ever could FIFA have known?