DOHA – Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham led England to a 6-2 victory over an inferior Iran in Monday’s Group B opening in Doha, giving them a brilliant start to their World Cup run.
With powerful performances that highlighted their rise as two of the game’s brightest young talents, Saka and Bellingham were England’s driving forces.
Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham, 19, dashed Iran’s chances of thwarting England after rising to head his first senior international goal in the first half.
Despite Mehdi Taremi scoring twice for Iran, Saka, 21, scored again after the break to complete the rout. Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish also scored to round off the scoring.
Reality is that in their quest to win their first major trophy since the World Cup in 1966, England will face far tougher challenges in the future.
But for Southgate, whose team entered Qatar on a six-match winless streak that sparked blistering criticism of the Three Lions manager and his perceived unfavorable tactics, this was a welcome step in the right direction.