England could not have hoped for a better start to their 2022 World Cup campaign as they defeated Iran in the opening game of Group B by six goals to two.
The Iranian fans were quite rowdy before the game, but gradually quieted down as England began to assert their dominance.
Goals from Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish secured an important victory for England, who first face Wales and then the USA.
Iran impressed at times during the match at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Star player Mehdi Taremi scored a stunning shot in the second half and later scored a penalty in the 102nd minute. However, Team Melli could offer little else as the Three Lions dominated the game with about 80 percent of total possession.
Billed as a sporting display and one with geopolitical overtones, the match got off to a controversial start when the Iranian team refused to sing their national anthem at the start of the match.
It was a striking act of solidarity with protesters at home, a situation that began in September when a 22-year-old female, Mahsa Aminidied while in the custody of Iran’s vice squad.
Since then, protests have spread across the country, challenging the authority of the government even as the security forces crack down. Hundreds of people have died in the violence.
Before Monday’s game, there were chants of “Say her name, Mahsa Amini” among protesters. outside the stadium.
The win against Iran is now England’s second-best World Cup performance after their 6-1 win against Panama in 2018.
More to follow.