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Published 21 November 2022 5 min read
England Men's Senior Team

England 6-2 Iran - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match centre

Written by:

James Reid

  • J. Bellingham (35′)
  • B. Saka (43′) (62′)
  • R. Sterling (46′)
  • M. Rashford (71′)
  • J. Grealish (90′)
FULL TIME
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B Qualifier
Monday 21 November, 01:00 PM Khalifa International Stadium
6 2
HT: 3 - 0
  • M. Taremi (65′) (103′PEN)
  • A. Jahanbakhsh (25′)
  • M. Pouraliganji (48′)

England begin their World Cup group stages in Qatar with victory over Iran

England boss Gareth Southgate watches on as his team prepare to face Iran in their World Cup opener
England boss Gareth Southgate watches on as his team prepare to face Iran in their World Cup opener
England v Iran
FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022  
Group B Qualifier 
1pm GMT, Monday 21 November 2022 
Khalifa International Stadium

England boss Gareth Southgate says the Three Lions are keen to brighten up the country’s Christmas in 2022, as they prepare to kick-off their World Cup campaign in Qatar.

Southgate’s squad will contest the second game of the competition on Monday when they face Iran in Doha.

And after leading England to the semi-finals in Russia four years ago, the manager is hoping his team can unite the nation again.

"Our challenge is to give our supporters a tournament that is memorable," said Southgate during his pre-match press conference.

"Our country is going through a difficult spell, obviously not like a couple of other countries are going through, in the middle of an economic recession and life has been difficult for a lot of people.


"We want them to have a journey with the team that brings real happiness."

The Three Lions squad have been in Qatar since last Tuesday, preparing for their opening game and the boss knows they’re going to face an opponent who could prove tough to break down.

But that doesn’t phase the players, who Southgate knows have the ability to show their patience and make a breakthrough to get their tournament up and running.

"Our team have been pretty creative and successful in breaking those sorts of challenges," explained Southgate.

"We know we mustn't be frustrated if it takes us time to score, confident with teams playing against Iran, difficult to score goals.

"This team has been through lots of difficult challenges. You need to respond in the right way and that's what we'll aim to do this tournament too."


This will be the first-ever meeting between the nations at men's senior level. Gareth Southgate's squad were drawn out alongside Iran, USA and Wales at the draw in Doha on 1 April. Find out more about the Iran national team below as well as some Opta stats...

● This will be the first ever encounter between England and Iran. The Islamic Republic have never beaten European opposition at the FIFA World Cup (D2 L6).

● England have qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the 16th time. It’s their seventh appearance in a row, their longest streak in the competition.

● England set the best goal difference in the group stage of European qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scoring 39 goals and conceding only three (+36).

● England are the only European team to have reached the semi-finals in each of the last two major tournaments (FIFA World Cup + EURO).

● 12 of England’s last 18 goals at the FIFA World Cup have been scored from set-pieces. In fact, 75% of their goals in 2018 came from dead ball situations (9 out of 12).

● Iran have never progressed past the first round of the FIFA World Cup, winning only two of their 15 matches (v USA in 1998 and Morocco in 2018). This is their sixth participation in the tournament, including their third in a row.

● Iran have scored just nine goals in 15 FIFA World Cup matches; at 0.6, it’s the lowest goals-per-game ratio of any nation to play more than 10 games at the competition. They’ve only netted more than once in one of their 15 games, a 2-1 win over USA in 1998.

● Iran are one of 20 teams to have featured at each of the last two FIFA World Cups in 2014 and 2018 – of those teams, they have had the fewest shots (47), the fewest shots on target (10) and scored the fewest goals (3) in the group stages across those two tournaments combined.

● Gareth Southgate has guided England to the last four in each of his two tournaments as national team head-coach. Only Sir Alf Ramsey can boast a similar record as England boss (WC winners in 1966, Euro semi-finalists in 1968).

● England striker Harry Kane was the top scorer in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with five of his six goals coming in the group stages. No player has ever been top/joint-top scorer at two different World Cup tournaments.

● Despite only playing six times, no Iran player was involved in more goals during the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying than Mehdi Taremi (4 goals, 2 assists).

Coach: Carlos Quieroz
Qualified from: First in AFC qualifying group
Qualifying top scorer: Mehdi Taremi (Porto)
FIFA World Cup best performance: group stage (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018)
Last encounter: N/A
 
Form guide

After consecutive defeats to group rivals Bahrain and Iraq respectively in late 2019, Iran looked like they wouldn’t even make it through to the last round of Asian qualifying, let alone reach a third straight World Cup finals. Then COVID-19 hit, and Iran were able to push the reset button. Coach Marc Wilmots was replaced, Iran won their four remaining second-round games – all played in neutral Bahrain because of the pandemic – and never looked back. They won eight out of ten games in round three to qualify alongside fellow AFC big hitters South Korea. 

Set-up 

Off the back of seven years coaching in Iran’s domestic leagues, Dragan Skocic was seen as a safe pair of hands when he took over from Wilmots in February 2020. Although Iran’s demanding fans would prefer their team to play on the front foot, defence was the bedrock of their success under the Croat, with just five goals conceded in 14 qualifiers. Skocic – who had experimented with a variety of attacking shapes in front of his favoured back four – was dismissed as head coach in July, only to be immediately reinstated. But his stay of execution didn’t last long and, in early September, new president of the Iranian Football Federation, Mehdi Taj, replaced Skocic with Carlos Queiroz, the former Manchester United assistant and Real Madrid coach who led Iran at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

World Cup pedigree

Despite qualifying for the finals six times, including four of the last six, Iran have never progressed beyond the group stage, although they did come close in 2018, beating Morocco and drawing with Portugal in a tough group also containing Spain.

Stars on show

In front of a compact defence and industrious midfield, Iran rely heavily on the mercurial attacking talents of Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun – who have been prolific goalscorers for Porto and Zenit St Petersburg respectively, the latter having recently moved to Bayer Leverkusen – and the creativity of Feyenoord’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who Premier League fans might remember from his three seasons with Brighton & Hove Albion. 

Breakout stars 

After a successful loan spell last season, Allahyar Sayyadmanesh made his move to Championship side Hull City permanent in the summer, only to suffer a hamstring injury following a lively to start to the season. Still only 21, the all-action centre-forward – if fit – is expected to provide speed and energy from the bench alongside veteran striker Karim Ansarifard, who captained Iran at Russia 2018.

Head to head 

England have never played Iran at men’s senior level.

Did you know?

Iran’s 14-0 World Cup qualifying win against Cambodia in October 2019 was the first game women were allowed to enter the stadium in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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22 Nov 2022 5:34

Highlights: England 6-2 Iran


Watch the best of the action from England's opening game of the 2022 World Cup

Ticket Information
 
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Games will be shown live in the UK via the BBC and ITV.
 
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
 
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest international football competition, contested by the senior men's national teams from around the globe every four years.  
 
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Gareth Southgate has named England’s starting XI for their 2022 FIFA World Cup opening match against Iran.

One of the main talking points among supporters is likely to be the selections of Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount, who come into the side on the back of impressive performances from the bench against Germany.

There are four changes in total from the team which drew 3-3 with Germany in late-September, with Jordan Pickford returning in goal and Kieran Trippier coming into the side in place of the injured Reece James.

England have 25 of the 26-man squad available, with James Maddison the only player unavailable due to injury.

Match Line Up

22 Nov 2022 5:34

Highlights: England 6-2 Iran


Watch the best of the action from England's opening game of the 2022 World Cup

England got their World Cup campaign off to a flying start with an impressive 6-2 victory over Iran in Qatar.

Goals from Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling put the Three Lions three goals up at the break before Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish all struck after half time, with Mehdi Taremi striking twice for Iran.

It marked the best-ever start to a World Cup group stage by England’s men, bettering their 3-1 victory over France in 1982.

Proceedings at the Khalifa International Stadium got off to a stuttering start, as Iran ‘keeper Alireza Beiranvand was forced off with injury following a clash of heads with Majid Hosseini after just seven minutes.

It came as a result of England’s best chance of the early stages, with Harry Kane whipping a dangerous cross which looked set for the head of Sterling before brave defending from Beiranvand.
Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount celebrate England's opening goal against Iran
Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount celebrate England's opening goal against Iran
The stoppage took much of the momentum from England’s early play, with little in the way of chances until the half hour mark, when Mason Mount fired a shot into the side netting after excellent work from Sterling and Saka.

Harry Maguire was the next to come close just two minutes later, cannoning a header off the bar from Kieran Trippier’s corner.

The Three Lions remained patient in the face of stubborn Iranian defending and got their breakthrough after 35 minutes, as Bellingham produced a terrific header to convert Luke Shaw’s cross into the top right corner.

It was two just seven minutes later as Maguire rose highest to meet a Trippier corner, nodding into the path of Saka who brilliantly thrashed home on the half-volley from just inside the box.

England were in full control by this stage and grabbed a third in the first of 14 additional minutes at the end of the first half. Bellingham picked up a loose ball in midfield and surged forward before feeding Kane, who crossed for Sterling to stab home at the near post with an excellent outside of the boot finish.
England started the second half as they ended the first, seeing nearly all of the ball but it took until just after the hour mark for the first clear-cut chance, and the fourth goal.

And it was Saka who grabbed his second of the game, after cutting inside from the right and teasing the defence before curling home a low shot from inside the box.

Iran then pulled one back minutes later, Taremi slamming home from close range following an excellent reverse pass from Ali Gholizadeh.

But England hit back with a fifth just five minutes later, with substitute Rashford finishing emphatically just under a minute after coming on after being set through on goal by Kane.
Saka celebrates the first of his two goals against Iran
Saka celebrates the first of his two goals against Iran
And there was still time for Grealish to get in on the act, knocking home into an empty net after fellow substitute Callum Wilson unselfishly squared across goal after being set free in behind.

Ten minutes of added time almost provided Iran with time for a second, but Jordan Pickford remained alert to tip Sardar Azmoun’s effort onto the bar.

Iran would not be denied, however, as Taremi converted from the spot in the 103rd-minute after John Stones had been penalised for a shirt pull in the box after a VAR review by the referee.
Bukayo Saka played a key role in England's win, scoring in either half
Bukayo Saka played a key role in England's win, scoring in either half

Match Line Up

England (4-3-3): 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton); 2 Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), 6 Harry Maguire (Manchester United), 5 John Stones (Manchester City), 3 Luke Shaw (Manchester United); 4 Declan Rice (West Ham United), 22 Jude Bellingham (Borrusia Dortmund), 19 Mason Mount (Chelsea); 10 Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), 17 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Substitutes: 15 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur) for Maguire 71’, 11 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) for Saka 71’, 20 Phil Foden (Manchester City) for Mount 71’, 7 Jack Grealish (Manchester City) for Sterling 71’, 24 Callum Wilson (Newcastle United) for Kane 76’

Substitutes not used: 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 13 Nick Pope (Newcastle United), 14 Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), 16 Conor Coady (Everton), 18 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), 21 Ben White (Arsenal), 23 Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), 26 Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)

Goals: Bellingham 35’, Saka 43’ 62’, Sterling 45+1’, Rashford 72’, Grealish 90’

Coach: Gareth Southgate

Iran (4-5-1): 1 Alireza Beiranvand; 2 Sadegh Moharrami, 8 Morteza Pouraliganji, 19 Majid Hosseini, 15 Rouzbeh Cheshmi, 5 Milad Mohammadi; 7 Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 21 Ahmad Noorollahi, 18 Ali Karimi, 3 Ehsan Hajisafi; 9 Mehdi Taremi

Substitutes: 24 Hossein Hosseini for Beiranvand, 20’, 13 Hossein Kanaanizadegan for Cheshmi 46’, 17 Ali Gholizadeh for Jahanbakhsh 46’, 6 Saeid Ezatolahi for Karimi 46’, 16 Mehdi Torabi for Mohammadi 64’, 20 Sardar Azmoun for Noorollahi

Substitutes not used: 4 Shojae Khalilzadeh, 10 Karim Ansarifard, 11 Vahid Amiri, 12 Payam Niazmand, 14 Saman Ghoddos, 22 Amir Abedzadeh, 23 Ramin Rezaeian, 24 Hossein Hosseini, 25 Abolfazl Jalali,

Cautions: Jahanbaskhsh (25’), Pouraliganji (49’)

Coach: Carlos Queiroz