Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford put behind them the disappointment of last year’s European Championship final and played a key role in England’s emphatic 6-2 victory over Iran in their Group B match at the FIFA World Cup on Monday. Both the players had faced racist comments after missing a penalty in the shootout in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.
Saka scored twice at the Khalifa International Stadium here, nearly a year after the incident, while Rashford, who came on as a substitute, scored one. This performance will boost the morale of coach Gareth Southgate’s team. Hundreds of fans were unable to watch the opening moments of the match due to a problem with digital tickets. England, however, started showing their strong game after these spectators reached the stadium.
Jude Bellingham scored the first goal in the 35th minute. This is his first international goal. Saka scored in the 43rd minute of the match while Raheem Sterling scored before half-time to increase the team’s lead to 3-0. England’s dominance continued in the second half as well. Saka scored his second goal in the 62nd minute to give England a 4–0 lead, and three minutes later Iran opened their account through Mehdi Taremi. However, Iran’s happiness did not last long as Rashford scored the 71st goal to once again extend England’s lead to four goals (5-1). Jack Grealish, another substitute player of the team, scored a goal in the 90th minute to seal a big victory for England. Taremi reduced the margin of defeat by scoring in stoppage time (90+13 minutes) of the second half.
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In the first half of the match, Iranian goalkeeper Ali Birnvand seriously collided with a teammate. He was then taken off the field with the help of a stretcher. At that time the match was goalless. Hussain Hosseini, who replaced him in the field, failed to contain the England attack. The match had a total of 29 minutes of injury time, including 15 minutes in the first half and 14 minutes in the second half.