2022 World Cup: England wins 6-2 as Iran's protest against violence goes on
England got their FIFA World Cup campaign underway with a commanding 6-2 win over Iran in the first match in Group B.
Bukayo Saka scored two before giving way to Marcus Rashford, who added another in the second half of the game.
The win also provides encouragement for coach Gareth Southgate, who has faced the most troubled period of his England tenure over the last year. In a difficult buildup to the tournament in Qatar, he was booed after a 4-0 loss to Hungary in June and was humiliated by his own fans when they chanted, "You don't know what you're doing."
England took the lead in the 34th minute when 19-year-old Jude Bellingham headed home Luke Shaw's cross from the left.
Saka then got his first of the match in the 43rd and Raheem Sterling added another in the 14-minute first-half stoppage time. Saka scored his second shortly after the hour, but Mehdi Taremi immediately pulled one back for Iran.
Rashford struck six minutes later to extend England's lead to 5-1, and Jack Grealish also stepped off the bench to score a sixth in the 90th.
Taremi added another for Iran from the penalty spot deep in stoppage time after John Stones was penalized for holding Morteza Pouraliganji's shirt in the box.
The game was delayed for several minutes in the first half when Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand clashed heads with a teammate. He was eventually taken off the field on a stretcher with the score still 0-0.
His replacement, Hossein Hosseini, was left with the unenviable task of facing England's potent attack.
Apart from this, the other phenomena on the course are also very impressive.
Iran's players didn't sing their national anthem and didn't celebrate their goals. In the stands, many Iranian fans showed solidarity with the protest movement that has roiled the country for months.
Iran is competing in the World Cup amid a violent crackdown on a major women's protest movement that has resulted in the deaths of at least 419 people, according Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests.
The unrest was spurred by the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country's morality police. It first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women, but has since morphed into one of the most serious threats to the Islamic Republic since the chaotic years following its founding.