England hit six past Iran

 England got their World Cup campaign in Qatar off to a flying start as Gareth South­gate’s side roared to a 6-2 victory against Iran

Jude Bellingham’s first goal for England got things under way for the Three Lions before strikes from Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling saw them race into a three-goal lead at the interval.

England added to their lead after the break when Saka added his second of the game with another smart finish, but Southgate’s side were given a wake-up call when Mehdi Taremi pulled a goal back for Iran.

It proved to be just that for England as substitute Marcus Rashford added a fifth with just his third touch after coming onto the pitch before another sub in Jack Grealish added England’s sixth in the 90th minute.

There was a minor blemish right at the death as referee Raphael Claus was asked to check the pitch side monitor by VAR after John Stones was adjudged to have tugged the shirt of Taremi. The penalty was awarded and Taremi kept his cool to send Jordan Pick­ford the wrong way.

Despite Iran’s late goal it was the start Southgate, who had come in for some criticism after his side’s poor run of form leading into the tournament, would have dreamed of as his side roared to the top of Group B.

Off-field issues dominated the build-up to the game with England announcing just three hours before kick-off that Harry Kane would not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar.

Once the action got underway, England thought they should have had an early penalty when Harry Maguire was man-handled by Rou­zbeh Cheshmi in the penalty area following Kieran Tripper’s corner.

Morteza Pouraliganji was also holding John Stones as England’s centre-backs attacked the ball, but Brazilian referee Raphael Claus waved away the penalty appeals before VAR stuck with the on-field decisions.

Any rhythm England had built in the early stages was then stopped when Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collided horribly with his team-mate Hosseini Majid as he tried to deal with a threatening Harry Kane cross.

Beiranvand spent several minutes down on the turf having treatment.

Surprisingly, he was allowed to continue despite looking in no fit state to take any further part, but minutes later he signalled to the bench, slumping to the floor before being carried off on a stretcher to be replaced by reserve goalkeeper Seyed Hossein Hossei­ni. —Skysports

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