We suspected that the gap between England and Iran, the first confrontation in history, would be great, but perhaps not to this extent. With 95% possession in the first quarter of an hour, England had set the tone of their intentions in their first game of the World Cup. She never loosened her grip on Iran, an adversary far too weak to stand up to her. Patiently, the English waited for the 35th minute to open the scoring thanks to a header from Jude Bellingham after a cross from Luke Shaw.
Pressing, especially on the sides, the English broke on a magnificent volley from Bukayo Saka (43rd) well offset by Harry Maguire. Drowned, the Iranian defense cracked once again on a clearance from Pickford and a goal from Raheem Sterling (45th + 1), served on a cross from Harry Kane.
The second period was almost a carbon copy of the first, except for a wavering of the English defense, shortly after the hour mark, which allowed Mehdi Taremi (65th) to reduce the gap after Saka’s double (62nd). But Marcus Rashford (71st) and Jack Grealish (89th) gave a more substantial advantage and in line with the huge difference between the two teams. England have made a successful entry into the competition.
The fact: huge clash between Iranians
The looped images raised fears of the worst for Alireza Beiranvand. The Iranian goalkeeper, released on a cross from Harry Kane (8th), in his tracks, violently collided his head against that of his defender Majid Hosseini. If the latter got up quickly, Beiranvand, bleeding from the nose, remained lying for a long time. Despite an obvious inability to resume the game, he insisted on continuing before, still groggy, throwing in the towel a few minutes later. An incident that will have caused 14 minutes of additional time in the first period.
The player: Bukayo Saka twirling
For his first match in the World Cup, the Arsenal striker had a blast against Iran. Technical, lively, even twirling, Bukayo Saka offered himself a double. A first goal on a remarkable strike in the top corner (43rd), after a deflection from Maguire, had set the tone. The second was more personal with a series of dribbles and a strike certainly countered (62nd). The 21-year-old prodigy marked this first game for the English.