The Three Lions of England put on a show for fans and neutrals alike in their 6-2 thumping of Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday afternoon.
In the first fixture after the opener, which saw hosts Qatar lose with an uninspiring display, it was a different affair with Gareth Southagte’s men.
Ranked fifth in the world by FIFA, many expect England to scale through their group with ease and if anything is to go by, the script might just play out correctly.
A rather cynical backdrop surrounded the build up to this clash, with England backing out from wearing the One Love armband while the Iranian players refrained from singing their national anthem. Even with their full strength, Carlos Queiroz and his Iran side had a mammoth task to do but their job got even harder after goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was eventually substituted for concussion after a hefty collision with his own defender.
Iran torn apart
England did much of the talking early on and dominated possession as expected but failed to find precision in the final third. Iran managed to hold their own up until 30 minutes but it was a different story once the deadlock was broken.
In-form Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham showed why he is wanted by a host of European giants after directing a perfectly weighted cross from Luke Shaw to open the scoring in the 35th minute. The floodgates were thrown open as Arsenal star Bukayo Saka doubled the scoreline after a brilliant one-time effort inside the box.
Just in the first minute of stoppage time before the break, England already put the game beyond any doubt as Harry Kane showed great footwork and composure on the ball to find Raheem Sterling, with the Chelsea man finishing off the move with an improvised strike.
Iran boss Queiroz made three changes just after the break but it was England who struck again. Saka grabbed his second of the night with an even better goal than his first after dazzling past two Iran defenders to cap it off with a brilliant close-range finish.
Three minutes later, Mehdi Taremi grabbed a consolation goal back for Iran after a decent team move as well, helped by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s poor movement.
Eric Dier, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were among four substitutions made by Gareth Southgate in the 70th minute and they proved to be inspired ones. Barely up to a minute on the pitch, Rashford made an instant impact. The Manchester United man cut inside and coolly slotted home his first major tournament goal, before Jack Grealish tapped in after being found by Callum Wilson to complete the rout.
Iran got another consolation on the evening, after Taremi got his second of the day from the spot in a goal that could mean much more come the end of the group stages.
England will now aim to make another statement in their next outing against USA on Friday while Iran will be eager to make a response against Wales in an earlier fixture on the same day.