England were in fine form as they breezed past an uninspired Iran side at the Khalifa stadium in Qatar.
England could not have hoped for a better start to their 2022 World Cup campaign as they thrashed Iran in Group B’s opening match by six goals to two.
The Iranian fans had been quite vocal before the game but gradually grew quieter as England began to assert their dominance.
Goals from Bellingham, Saka, Sterling, Rashford and Grealish sealed an important victory for England, who now face Wales and USA.
Iran did impress in moments, in particular, Taremi, who scored a stunning strike in the second half and later slotted home a 102nd-minute penalty. However, Team Melli could offer little else as the Three Lions dominated the game with around 80 percent of the total possession.
The game, billed as a sporting display as well as one with geopolitical undertones, started on a controversial note as the Iranian team refused to sing their national anthem at the start of the game.
It was a striking act of solidarity with protesters back at home, a situation that began in September when a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died while in the custody of the Iranian morality police.
Protests have since spread across the nation, challenging the authority of the government even as security forces have cracked down. Hundreds of people have died in the violence.
Monday’s win is now England’s second-best World Cup performance, after their 6-1 triumph against Panama back in 2018.
More to follow.