England were in excellent form as they cruised past an uninspired Iran side at the Khalifa Stadium in Qatar.
England couldn’t have hoped for a better start to their 2022 World Cup campaign as they demolished Iran in their Group B opener by six goals to two.
The Iranian fans were quite loud before the match, but gradually became quieter as England began to assert their dominance.
Goals from Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish sealed an important win for England, who follow up against Wales and then the USA.
Iran really impressed at times during the match at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Star player Mehdi Taremi scored a stunning second-half strike and later scored a penalty in the 102nd minute. However, Team Melli could have offered little more as the Three Lions dominated play with around 80 per cent of total possession.
The match, billed as a sporting demonstration as well as one with geopolitical overtones, began on a controversial note as the Iranian team refused to sing its national anthem at the start of the match.
It was a striking act of solidarity with protesters back home, a situation that began in September when a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.
Since then, protests have spread across the nation, challenging the government’s authority, although security forces have been cracking 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.
The win against Iran is now England’s second best performance at the World Cup, after their 6-1 triumph against Panama in 2018.
More to come.