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Gareth Southgate surpasses Sir Alf Ramsey in wins at major tournaments as the Three Lions smash Iran

Even with all the controversy surrounding the tournament itself, this game was not without its own unique problems.

England announced earlier in the day that captain Harry Kane would not be wearing the One Love armband, due to concerns over sanctions by FIFA.

In addition, a number of England fans had to wait hours to enter the stadium, after issues arose with FIFA’s ticketing system.

The players of Iran also refused to sing their national anthem, as a result of all the civil unrest currently sweeping their country.

FIFA wanted everyone to focus on football, but it turned out that there’s plenty of issues and controversy to talk about in that regard too.

England started the game brightly, and soon found Kieran Trippier back over a dead ball. Iran were lucky not to concede straight away, after a penalty shout on Harry Maguire was waved away by the VAR team.

Iran’s chances were not helped when keeper Beiranvand went down very early in the game with a head injury, after clashing with a fellow Iranian player.

Despite being down for several minutes, Beiranvand changed his shirt and put his gloves back on. But he certainly didn’t look in any state to continue, even with the best will of the Iranian supporters.

Just minutes after getting back on his feet Beiranvand was heading off the pitch on a stretcher.

It does not matter how important any player is to a team, head injuries that serious should never be taken lightly and questions will be asked over why he was not brought off straight away.

Jude Bellingham had jokingly said before the game that he had been saving his first England goal, and many fans will think it came at the perfect time.

Luke Shaw put in a lovely cross and Bellingham was there to head it in beyond keeper Hosseini.

Less than 10 minutes later, England doubled their lead. Bukayo Saka fired in an absolute rocket, after Harry Maguire’s header fell to him.

England were straight back into action though. Harry Kane put it into the danger zone and Sterling was there with a beautiful finish to get England’s second in a matter of minutes.

Despite 14 minutes of injury time, Sterling’s goal was to be the last piece of action before half-time.

HT: 3-0

Iran grew into the game a bit more in the second half, but England were not about to sit back. Saka turned and weaved in the box, before letting another beautiful strike fly.

Before England could make their substitutions, Iran managed to get one back. Taremi instinctively struck Gholizadeh’s cross and got a consolation for the passionate Iranian supporters in the Khalifa International Stadium.

Harry Maguire was then down with a head injury. England decided to learn from Iran’s mistake and the Manchester United defender was taken off.

There was a little confusion with the substitutes. England were not allowed to make them straight away, even with Harry Maguire leaving the pitch, and Iran were allowed to get closer and closer to goal while the Three Lions were down to ten men.

Fortunately for England, no goal came of it, and once the substitutes were eventually allowed on it didn’t take them long to get involved. All it took for Marcus Rashford was three touches before he found the back of the net, scoring his first World Cup goal.

England were not finished. Callum Wilson was through on goal and chose to be unselfish, playing in Jack Grealish to get England’s sixth.

Just when everyone thought the last of the action was over, fan favourite Azmoun had a wicked shot matched by an equally great save from Jordan Pickford in the England goal.

A couple of minutes later Iran were awarded the penalty, but many England fans will feel aggrieved, with the foul being very similar to the one on Harry Maguire at the start of the game.

Despite a couple of setbacks, it certainly seems like Southgate’s change in formation, and going with a more creative style of play, is paying off so far for England.

FT: 6-2

England: Pickford, Trippier, Stones, Maguire (70), Shaw, Bellingham, Rice, Mount (71), Saka (71), Sterling (71), Kane (76)

Subs: Walker, Grealish (71), Henderson, Rashford (71), Pope, Phillips, Dier (70), Coady, Alexander-Arnold, Foden (71), White, Ramsdale, Wilson (76), Gallaher

Iran: Beiranvand (19), Moharrami, Pouraliganji, Cheshmi (46), M.Hosseini, Mohammadi, Jahanbakhsh (46), Nourollahi (77), Karimi (46), Hajsafi, Taremi

Subs: Khalilzadeh, Afagh (46), Ansarifard, Amiri, Niazmand, Kanaanizadegan (46), Ghoddos, Torabi, Gholizadeh (46), Azmoun (77), Abedzadeh, Rezaeian, H.Hosseini (19), Jalali

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