Symbols, bans and a lot of politics: England’s game against Iran is almost all about topics outside of football. In terms of sports, Kane and Co. present themselves directly as a title favorite.
Al-Rajjan – Co-favorite England has defied the hype around the symbolic colorful captain’s armband and set the first exclamation mark at the World Cup in Qatar with a relaxed 6: 2 (3: 0) against the overwhelmed outsider Iran.
The fans fervently sang the national anthem “God Save the King”, party music blared from the speakers. The English record opening winners around goalscorer Jude Bellingham clapped their hands and grinned before a lap of honour. The Three Lions with captain Harry Kane, who did not have the “one-love” tie for diversity on his arm after the announced sanctions of FIFA, started in Al-Rajjan as clearly as never in his history in a World Cup and so impressively demonstrated his ambitions for the title.
“We needed that good start,” double goalscorer Bukayo Saka told the BBC: “There was a lot of talk and speculation about our form, but we showed everyone how much quality we have and what we can do. I am so happy and so proud.”
Extreme extra time
- 1 Extreme extra time
- 2 Some of the sports in the background
- 3 The game was decided at half-time
In front of 45,334 spectators, some of whom were late to the stadium because of problems with the ticket app, Bellingham (35th minute) scored the lead goal for the team of head coach Gareth Southgate. Wingers Bukayo Saka (43/62), Raheem Sterling (45+1), Marcus Rashford (71) and Jack Grealish (90) added further goals. It was England’s first win since March, and not a single success in six Nations League games in the summer. More than two goals by Mehdi Taremi (65./90.+13 / foul kick) were not in it for Iran. Twice there were more than ten minutes of extra time due to numerous interruptions.
The match was already taking place before kick-off at the Chalifa International Stadium, where the 2019 World Athletics Championships were also held, strongly from a political and symbolic point of view. England captain Kane did not wear the tie because FIFA threatened to sanction the campaign of several European associations with yellow cards and further penalties as a sign of diversity. Just a week ago, the FA announced that it would also accept penalties for the sign for diversity. Now those responsible stressed that they do not want to put the players on the grass in the breach.
All the more visible were the signs of the outsider from Asia – but in a completely different matter. Some Iranian fans showed their solidarity with the protests in their home country by wearing shirts with the inscription “Women, life, freedom”. Iran has been rocked for weeks by the heaviest protests in decades. The death of a young woman in police custody had triggered this, the security apparatus reacted with severity. During the anthem, the Iranian players were silent, the fans made additional noise – this is also understood as a protest.
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Some of the sports in the background
The sport and thus the first appearance of vice-European champion England moved neatly to the edge of attention for a long distance. So it was after about ten minutes, when Iran keeper Ali Beiranvand was on the ground after a violent collision with a teammate and had to be treated. The doctors exchanged the bloodstained jersey and tried to make Beiranvand fit to play again, but that didn’t work out. After an interruption of about ten minutes in total, the goalkeeper then left the field.
In England’s consistent attacking actions, defensive tackle Harry Maguire was surprisingly often involved. First he was brought down in the penalty area without consequences, then he hit the outside net one after the other and hit the crossbar with his head. Bellingham then provided relief, who was placed and deliberately headed into the long corner after a close-range cross from Luke Shaw. It was a World Cup debut for the BVB professional, he scored his first international goal ever and with his 19 years behind Michael Owen is now England’s second youngest World Cup goalscorer.
The game was decided at half-time
Especially the wingers Saka and Sterling made a lot of speed for the Southgate eleven and had numerous strong actions. So the further goals in the first half, in which there was a bizarre extra time of 14 minutes, were only logical. At the second goal, Maguire put his eye on Saka, who completed precisely and powerfully. Just two minutes later, Sterling, who was served by Captain Kane, followed suit.
The game was decided at half-time, and in the second 45 minutes it was all about the height of England’s opening success. Saka was again well served, moved inside from the right and pushed to 4:0. Then the outsider was allowed to cheer. Top striker Taremi from FC Porto scored before Rashford, who had just been substituted, was again successful for the English with his first action. At that time, defender Maguire had already been substituted with an injury. Joker Grealish also scored, Taremi’s penalty made it 2-6.