This was only the second time when England scored five or more goals in a major tournament match. The first time they did it was against Panama (6-1) in the 2018 World Cup. Both have come under Gareth Southgate.
England made a mockery of Iran’s defence in the match by scoring three goals in each half while Mahdi Taremi was the lone scorer for Iran.
A strong start to the #FIFAWorldCup for @England! 👊 #Qatar2022 https://t.co/q7uW61H7ER
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) 1669044868000
The second match of the tournament also saw VAR come into play which resulted in Iran getting the penalty for a minor shirt pull and Taremi successfully converting it for a consolation in the dying seconds of the match.
The match also took place against the background of turmoil in Iran after months of female-led demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin who was arrested by the morality police in Tehran.
Iran’s players refused to sing their national anthem in apparent support for anti-government protesters.
England came into the tournament without a win in six games, but a dynamic opening 45 minutes in which Bellingham scored his first England goal, Saka doubled the lead and Sterling grabbed a third set up a second-half stroll.
A strong start. 💪#ThreeLions | @GoogleCloud_UKI https://t.co/Beq8P6AnKg
— England (@England) 1669045489000
Saka’s second goal after the break allowed them to take their foot off the gas and opened the door for Iran to grab one back through Mehdi Taremi, before substitutes Rashford and Grealish rounded off England’s scoring.
England’s cause was helped when Iran’s influential goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was forced off the pitch after 20 minutes following a sickening clash of heads with a team mate but they took full advantage.
England’s 19-year-old midfielder Bellingham underlined why some of Europe’s biggest clubs have got him in their sights, as he purred like a Rolls-Royce in the engine room and his opening goal set England on their way at Khalifa International Stadium.
Timing his run perfectly, Bellingham rose to meet Luke Shaw’s cross from the left, and directed a looping header over the keeper and into the top corner in the 35th minute to become the first player born in or after 2000 to score at the World Cup.
Never a bad time to score your first #FIFAWorldCup goal 🦁#Qatar2022 | @England https://t.co/tTQ2pvXknw
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) 1669044200000
Shaw was the provider again for England’s second goal as his corner was headed back across the area by Harry Maguire to Saka, who volleyed expertly into the top corner.
The game was then effectively ended as a contest when Sterling added a third, finishing with the outside of his boot on the volley from Harry Kane’s cross after Bellingham was once again involved in the buildup.
England were not done however, as Saka grabbed his second in the 62nd minute.
Sterling, whose place in the side had been under scrutiny following mixed form for Chelsea, turned in midfield and fed Saka, who jinked inside then out, before dropping his shoulder and calmly slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
Iran pulled one back when Vahid Amiri fed Taremi and he smashed it into the top corner past England keeper Jordan Pickford but Rashford came on in a raft of England changes in the 70th minute and cut inside a defender before slotting his side’s fifth moments later.
England’s Grealish turned in their sixth from close range in the 90th minute after fellow substitute Callum Wilson’s run and cross from the right, before Taremi’s late spot kick.
England play their second match against the United States on Friday and conclude their Group B fixtures against Wales on November 29.
(With Agency Inputs)