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FIFA World Cup 2022 Recap: England 6, Iran 2

2KG4GYW Doha, Qatar. 21st Nov, 2022. Khalifa International Stadium Bukayo Saka after scoring for England during the World Cup Group B game between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. England won the game 6-2. (Marcio Machado/SPP) Credit: SPP Sport Press Photo. /Alamy Live News

Bukayo Saka scored twice as England coasted to a 6-2 victory over Iran in the opening game of Group B.

Medhi Taremi grabbed two goals back for Iran, but Carlos Queiroz's men were outmatched over the 90 minutes.

England will expect tougher tests from here, especially from the United States, but nevertheless made a strong statement of intent, having made deep runs in the two previous major international tournaments.

Expected goals (xG): England 2.14, Iran 1.62

While the underlying numbers suggest a closer affair, England can take solace in that the bulk of Iranian xG was generated after the result had been all but decided.

Man of the Match: Jude Bellingham, England

The 19-year-old prodigy brought his incredible form into England’s tournament opener, giving his side the lead with his 35th-minute header.

On top of his first international goal, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder ranked second in line-breaking passes completed, first in line-breaking passes received (13) and applied the second-most pressures among England players (23).

Bellingham completed 100% of his dribbles and matched that perfection in dribbles defended in an all-around performance that showed why the young midfielder is perhaps the most sought-after prospect in world football.

Best Passer: John Stones, England

Stones orchestrated England’s attack from deep against Iran’s compact defense. Not only did he lead in total passes completed (115) and finish second in pass completion percentage (97.5%), but he also managed to go a perfect 14-of-14 on line-breaking passes.

England is sure to face more teams willing to cede possession, so the team will need Stones to continue pulling the strings.

Best Challenger: Harry Maguire, England

The much-maligned Manchester United defender vindicated Gareth Southgate’s faith in him, producing a challenge-win percentage of 72.7% — tied for first with teammate Kieran Trippier — and a match-leading five aerial duels won.

Nothing exemplified his dominance more than the towering header over Roozbeh Cheshmi that cushioned the ball down for Bukayo Saka to give England a 2-0 lead.

While it wasn't a perfect game for Maguire — he was caught out of position on Iran’s first goal — England will hope the injury he sustained doesn’t affect him moving forward.

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