England beat Iran 6-2 in their first World Cup game in Qatar.
The game at Khalifa International Stadium marked the first ever meeting between the two teams and saw thousands of fans fill the stands to watch the action unfold.
Before kick-off, some England fans struggled to enter the stadium due to an issue with the FIFA ticketing app.
At the start of the game, the Three Lions took the knee in a move against racism and inequality after reverse the captain’s decision to wear the OneLove armband following a threat from FIFA that this would result in a yellow card for Harry Kane.
The World Cup has been largely overshadowed by non-sporting issues, including criticism of human rights abuses in Qatar.
In an apparent act of support for the protesters at home, the Iranian team chose not to sing their country’s national anthem before the start of the match.
Minutes into the match, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was slammed in the head in a collision with one of his teammates, forcing him to the ground and eventually being taken off the field on a stretcher with a concussion presumed.
It was in the 35th minute that England scored their first goal, scored by 19-year-old Jude Bellingham.
“We are disappointed to concede two”
Speaking after the match, Bellingham, whose goal marked his first in an international match, said it was “a really proud moment”.
“The start was tough and we had to dig in,” he added. “It’s important to learn how to create chances against these kinds of teams, but we’re disappointed to concede two.”
The team kept the pressure on Iran and Bukayo Saka scored a second goal in the 43rd minute before Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 in first half stoppage time.
Saka also scored the fourth goal in the 62nd minute, before Iran pulled one back in the 65th minute with Mehdi Taremi firing past Jordan Pickford, who could only get his hands on the strike.
Marcus Rashford calmly made it 5-1 in the 71st minute, moments after entering the field as a substitute, and Jack Grealish added to the scoreline in the dying minutes of the game.
After getting his goal, Grealish celebrated on the pitch by doing a dance he had promised to perform for an 11-year-old fan with cerebral palsy.
“We lost our focus”
Manager Gareth Southgate said the result was a “good start” for England but they “have to do better”.
“We had 24 minutes of extra time throughout the game… the errors were a consequence of the score, so it takes a long time to concentrate, and we lost our concentration,” he explained.
“The first half was sticky with a lot of saves but our pressing and movement was really good. We shouldn’t concede two goals at this stage of the game so we will have to be fair in our game against the United United. “
Iran made it 6-2 in added time after Taremi converted a penalty, which was awarded after VAR advised the referee to review footage of his shirt taken.
England are now due to play USA on Friday.