England thrash Iran in World Cup 2022 opener | Daily Mail Online

    England have demolished Iran 6-2 in their opening match of the Qatar World Cup today – their strongest ever start to a major tournament on a record-breaking afternoon for the Three Lions.

    Gareth Southgate’s wonderkids Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka scored three goals at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha. Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish grabbed the other three in a superb performance.

    The rout began when Birmingham-born Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Bellingham, 19, sent thousands of fans in the stadium wild – and millions at home – as he rose to nod home after a cross from Manchester United’s Luke Shaw. He made history with the header as he became the second teenager in history to score in a World Cup for England, after Michael Owen against Argentina in 1998.

    Minutes later Saka, 21, smashed home a left foot shot off the crossbar. And then Sterling, 27, blasted in a volley following a cross from captain Harry Kane, effectively winning the game before half time. 

    In the second half Saka then grabbed a fourth goal – his second – with an hour on the clock, passing it into the net after a mazy run. He became the youngest England player to score two at a World Cup.

    Gareth Southgate’s side would not be able to boast a clean sheet however, Iran striker Mehdi Taremi pegged back England with a fierce strike past Pickford.   

    Marcus Rashford scored and restored a four goal advantage to make it 5-1. Jack Grealish then made it 6-1 with a minute to go, doing ‘the worm’ as a celebration after a promise to a 11-year-old Manchester City fan with cerebral palsy. Jack’s sister also has the condition.

    Pickford made a superb stop from Sardar Azmoun in the latter stages of 10 minutes of injury time before Iran were awarded a penalty after a VAR check. John Stones was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Taremi, who then sent Pickford the wrong way to reduce the arrears to 6-2 with the last kick of the game.

    The Three Lions could have had at least eight goals. They were denied a clear penalty just three minutes into the game, when Harry Maguire was clearly dragged down in the box. Maguire later headed against the crossbar.

    Thousands of Three Lions supporters were in the stadium including the WAGs of the players and David Beckham while millions are watching at home, work or in pubs with high streets across the UK deserted as people settled down for the 1pm match. There were wild scenes at pubs and fanparks across the UK as England thrashed the Iranians. 

    But the game was overshadowed by the row with FIFA over Harry Kane’s proposed rainbow armband and ticket woes for fans trying to get into the stadium after the Qatar 2022 app failed.

    Jack Grealish made it 6-1 against Iran with a minute to go, doing ‘the worm’ as a celebration after a promise to a 11-year-old Manchester City fan with cerebral palsy. England would win 6-2

    Jude Bellingham of England celebrates with Mason Mount after scoring their team’s first goal as the Three Lions dominated Iran

    1-0: Jude Bellingham nods home England’s first goal against Iran

    2-0: Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka then smashed home a shot off the crossbar

    3-0: Raheem Sterling then hammered home a volley at the start of 14 minutes of stoppage time

    4-0: Saka then grabbed a fourth with an hour on the clock, passing it into the net after a mazy run

    4-1: Iran’s Mehdi Taremi scores his side’s opening goal during the World Cup group B match, blasting past Pictkford

    5-1: Marcus Rashford calmly slots into the net 

    6-1: Jack Grealish of England scores their team’s sixth goal. Iran would score a penalty with the last kick of the game

    David Beckham was seen clapping politely as England took control of the match

    Rebecca Cooke, girlfriend of England’s Phil Foden, with son Ronnie Foden in the stands before the FIFA World Cup Group B match

    Tolami Benson, partner of Bukayo Saka of England, looks on from the stands

    Georgina Irwin, fiance of England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, with Aaron’s mother and father, Caroline and Nick Ramsdale

    England soccer fans celebrate a goal as they watch on a large screen the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and Iran at a fan zone in London

    England fans cheer at BOXPARK Croydon as they watch a live broadcast of England’s opening group-round match versus Iran

    England fans celebrate their side’s second goal at the 4TheFans Fan Park at Love Factory, Manchester

    Iran fans in the stands hold up an Iran flag reading ‘Woman Life Freedom’. The players refused to sing the national anthem

    England DOESN’T wear ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband: Harry Kane is forced to back down over LGBT band as FA says it ‘can’t put players in a position where they face sporting sanctions’

    Harry Kane has already been pictured wearing the OneLove armband while training in Qatar, ahead of England’s match against Iran. He now won’t

    Harry Kane will not wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband for England’s World Cup opener after the threat of a yellow card proved too much of a risk for the FA.

    The armband is a show of solidarity for the LGBT+ community and captain Kane has said he wanted to wear it at kick-off at 1pm. Homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar.

    But FIFA has strict rules about apparel that can be worn by players and the armband is not allowed under the code. 

    It meant Kane could have faced an immediate booking this afternoon if he walked out wearing the ‘OneLove’ band.

    If he wore it again in their second match, the skipper could have been slapped with another yellow, automatically banning him from the third game.

    In a statement the Football Association said: ‘We have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armband in FIFA World Cup games.

    ‘We cannot put our players in a situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play’.

    Downing Street said Fifa’s actions over the armband were frustrating.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We share the FA’s frustration with Fifa’s decision on this which puts players in a very difficult position.

    ‘It is, ultimately, a decision for the FA.

    ‘On LGBT rights more broadly, clearly Qatar’s policies are not those of the UK Government and not ones we would endorse. ‘

    England took the knee as they started their first World Cup campaign against Iran in one of the most politically-charged matches in English football history after a row over wearing a rainbow captain’s armband for Harry Kane, which was dropped after pressure from FIFA. 

    Kane looked serious as he led the team on to the pitch. The England captain did not wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband after the threat of a yellow card proved too much of a risk for the FA. Alan Shearer said today that Kane had been put in an impossible position ahead of one of the biggest games of his career, but added that he would probably have worn the armband himself.

    Kane was wearing the official FIFA ‘No Discrimination’ armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems. Loud whistles greeted the Iranian anthem, with the whole Iran team opting not to sing.

    The entire England team then took the knee and Harry Kane appeared to raise his fist – but the Iranians did not take part.

    Before the goals rained in, England fans were furious by the failure to award the Three Lions a penalty just three minutes into their World Cup opener. 

    England had an early corner which was taken by Kieran Trippier and Harry Maguire appeared to be dragged down by Iranian defender Roozbeh Cheshmi. 

    Shortly afterwards the match was stopped for 10 minutes after a head injury to Iran’s goalkeeper, who was replaced. Maguire then hit the crossbar with a header as England dominated.

    Bellingham would go one better shortly afterwards, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder looping a header home from Luke Shaw’s cross to break the deadlock 10 minutes before the interval.

    Saka would double the lead before the break, thrashing home a fine volley from a Maguire header down to banish his penalty miss of last summer.

    With the fourth official signalling 14 minutes of added time, England grabbed their third through Raheem Sterling, who finished Kane’s cross after some great build-up from Southgate’s side.

    England grabbed their fourth as Saka scored his second of the game, cutting in from the right to curl home.

    Southgate’s side would not be able to boast a clean sheet however, Porto striker Mehdi Taremi pulling one back for Iran with a fierce strike past Pickford.

    Maguire was forced off in the immediate aftermath of the goal as Eric Dier came on, while Saka, Sterling and Mount were replaced by Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden.

    Rashford, who like Saka was racially abused after missing from the spot against Italy, had not featured for England since that night but he needed just seconds to make it 5-1 with a cool finish.

    Two more of Southgate’s substitutes combined for a late sixth as Wilson ran onto a Bellingham through-ball before unselfishly crossing for Grealish for just his second England goal.

    Pickford made a superb stop from Sardar Azmoun in the latter stages of 10 minutes of injury time before Iran were awarded a penalty after a VAR check.

    John Stones was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Taremi, who then sent Pickford the wrong way to reduce the arrears to 6-2 with the last kick of the game.

    Fans erupted in cheers of joy as the final whistle sealed an England victory in their first World Cup game.

    Leon Saraphim, 37, and Clinton Campbell, 35, both from London were among hundreds of Three Lions supporters to roar.

    Leon said: ‘What a fantastic start to our World Cup campaign. Let’s bring it home.’

    Clinton added: ‘It was a great start. We did let them [Iran] get two back but it doesn’t take away from a great win.’

    Bellingham salutes the crowd after opening the scoring

    England players swamp Bukayo Saka as he celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates

    Raheem Sterling (C) celebrates with teammates after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha

    England’s Bukayo Saka , second right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s fourth goal – his second of the match

    Marcus Rashford of England celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s fifth goal

    Jack Grealish celebrates with Phil Foden of England after scoring their team’s sixth goal

    Play, Jude! Meet Jude Bellingham, the teenage Lion who’s already roared at the World Cup 

    ictured: Jude, aged 16, with his parents Mark and Denise and his brother

    He is the youngest member of Gareth Southgate‘s England squad for the Qatar World Cup.

    But at 19 Jude Bellingham is already seen as key to the nation’s hopes of lifting the trophy for the first time in 56 years.

    The teenage midfielder, who set a world record for a 17-year-old when he moved from boyhood club Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund for £22.5million in 2020, is coveted by several top Premier League sides.

    But he owes his love of football to a star of the lower reaches of the game – his father.

    Mark Bellingham, now 46, scored more than 700 goals in around 900 appearances, making him a sort of non-league Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Bellingham senior juggled stints at clubs including Leamington, Stourbridge and Sutton Coldfield Town with his day job as a sergeant with West Midlands Police.

    In his pomp, he earned only around £200 a week from football. His son takes home around £2.5million a year in Germany and would more than triple that with a move to an English club or to Spain – Real Madrid are said to be interested in signing him next summer.

    Jude broke into the England side ahead of last year’s Covid-delayed Euro 2020 championships, making history as the tournament’s youngest-ever player, and is now a regular first choice. His brother Jobe, 17, is also a professional on Birmingham City’s books.

    Their father hung up his boots at the age of 41 in 2017 and is believed to have retired from the police. He declines to discuss his son’s achievements.

    Jude told The Guardian in 2020 how his mother Denise took him to watch his father play: ‘It’s where I started to get that love for football. I think you can see in the way I play that I’ve watched the game from a young age. 

    ‘That non-league style of toughness and being gritty when you need to be… I do think that comes from watching my dad play – even though he never tackled!’

    Leamington FC chairman Jim Scott described Jude’s father as a ‘goal machine’, adding: ‘He was in great demand, a good player who was extremely dedicated, particularly when you consider his demanding career. [He] could have played at a higher level. You can see where Jude gets his talent from.’

    The 750-capacity crowd at the Box Park Shoreditch clapped when double-goal scorer Bukayo Saka was substituted in the second half.

    A huge cheer echoed around the Outernet venue in central London at the final whistle.

    Fans streamed away from the Budweiser sponsored event deliriously happy with the 6-2 victory.

    ‘What a start to our World Cup, said Ed Wegston.

    ‘It could not have been better and zi can’t wait until we play the USA and Wales.

    ‘They will be harder, but scoring six has set down a market’

    Celebrations inside the underground venue began before the final whistle.

    A group of about 40 among them packed crowd ran through the songbook of England chants usually heard at Wembley Stadium and overseas venues.

    While pints of beer were readily available throughout the match there was no trouble as security guards kept a close watch on boisterous crowd.

    Stephen Brown.25, from Battersea, south London, said’ Iran are hardly the best team in the tournament, but it’s great to score six.

    ‘England looked really composed and other teams will fear us now’.

    Thousands of England fans have descended on Qatar and have managed to sniff out £12 pints ahead of the team’s first match of the World Cup today – but some told MailOnline their trips have cost £50,000 and criticised the lack of atmosphere in Doha before the big game.

    Supporters packed out hotels, sports bars and Irish pubs before heading to the Khalifa Stadium for the 1pm kick off UK time where booze has been banned by the Gulf state’s Emir at the 11th hour.

    But they endured chaotic scenes outside the Khalifa stadium after their tickets disappeared from the FIFA app on their mobile phones.

    Thousands of fans queued in the searing heat as they stared at their mobile phones wondering why their electronic tickets had disappeared.

    England fans then received an email from FIFA which contained a QR code to allow them to enter the stadium. 

    Most tickets for games at the tournament are electronic. Angry fans labelled FIFA a farce claiming that the technical glitch had spoiled their fun of the pre-match build up.

    Sanjay Puri, 36 from Birmingham fumed: ‘It’s a joke. You would have thought that FIFA would have their IT in order. How has something like this happened?’

    Paul Sims, 40 who had travelled from Dubai said: ‘I was outside the stadium and about to use my electronic ticket but then a message appeared saying it wasn’t working. Luckily I got an email with a QR code but I had to wait more than an hour to get in.’

    Further chaos resulted from stadium security that every is scanned along with fan identity cards to ensure it belongs to the right person.

    Security also confiscated items like sun cream, sweets and snacks further causing delays and annoying fans.

    England fans started knocking back the pints on the morning of today’s World Cup game and mocked the tournament alcohol ban by singing: ‘We’ve got all the booze in Qatar.’ 

    Carpenter Tom Miller, 24 from Maidstone, Kent kissed his England badge and said: ‘It’s hot outside and this beer tastes great. We’re not worried about not being able to drink outside stadiums because we’ll make sure that we’ll have a belly full before we leave for the match’.

    His friend Steve Jenkins, 26 said: ‘We’ve been on the lash all night and I’m sure we’ll have lots more. This pub’s great. You’d never believe you’re in Qatar. It’s like the Queen Vic in EastEnders.’

    Carole Brocklesby, 59, from Hull told MailOnline: ‘Everyone is behind England. There aren’t that many fans here. But my husband, Paul and I just had to come. We’ve spent about £50,000, but worth every penny if we win the World Cup’.

    Her husband Paul, 68, said: ‘Every England fan here in Qatar has paid a lot of money and really loves the players and the team.

    ‘Obviously our supporters are behind them. But if Harry Kane gets himself booked twice, because of the armband, then I’m afraid I don’t agree with that. It’s about the team and their supporters and trying to win the trophy.’

    Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Harry Maguire also lowered themselves to the pitch to take the knee before the match with Iran began

    Harry Kane takes the knee before the kick off in an anti-racism stance

    Kane was wearing the official FIFA ‘No Discrimination’ armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems. The rainbow armband was expected to be worn but the threat of a booking stopped it

    Harry Kane also raised his arm as the England team took the knee in a gesture not mirrored by the Iranians

    Harry Maguire appeared to be dragged down to the floor by Iran defender Roozbeh Cheshmi

    There was a 10 minute delay after goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand of Iran clashed heads with his teammate. He had to come off

    David Beckham was seen in the stands before the match this afternoon 

    Former England captain Beckham, who has come under criticism for his role as an ambassador for Qatar, was pictured inthe stands at the stadium today

    Fans at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha this afternoon

    Raheem Sterling’s partner Paige Milian shared an Instagram story of one of their children arriving at the stadium for the match

    Beckham then changed into a suit as he made his way to the stands shortly before kick-off 

    Back home in England pubs started filling up at dawn this morning with supporters. Bosses are expected to let staff watch the match at work or home or face a flurry of staff calling in sick or bunking off. One in ten schools are expected to show the game in class.

    This morning supporters in Qatar are already drinking booze despite its sale being strictly controlled in the Muslim country. 

    Videos showed them downing drinks and singing songs in the hours before the Three Lions’ big game in an English-themed pub.

    Sarah Thompson, 42 from Bristol: ‘This is great. It feels like being in a traditional English pub.

    ‘My partner and I paid a lot of money for these tickets and we’ll know soon enough if i was worth it. I was worried that we might not be able to get a drink but I’ve had a few beers and I’ll have a few more so I’m happy.’

    There was loud cheering as two fans walked into the bar dressed as St George.

    Sarah added: ‘The Qataris have been great. All they’ve wanted to do is take pictures with us. We feel like film stars.’

    Around 4,000 England supporters are believed to be heading to Qatar for the World Cup with around 2,800 expected to be in the ground to watch Gareth Southgate‘s men play in a match they are widely expected to win. 

    Many flew into Qatar this morning, some from the UK and others from Dubai and Abu Dhabi where the rules on drinking is more relaxed and accommodation more plentiful.

    But the stadium is unlikely to packed out in a way England games at major tournaments usually are with the host’s opening match only a third full after they were easily beaten by Ecuador last night. 

    There were also empty seats at the opening ceremony featuring Morgan Freeman and attended by the Qatari royals, VIPs including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, David Beckham and FIFA delegates. The show, which promised that football is for everyone, reportedly cost £10million to put together. 

    Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions today faces the most politically-charged World Cup match in its history today when they face Iran. 

    England’s team have confirmed that they will take the knee before they kick off against Iran. All eyes will be on the Iranian team and whether any rebel players will give any scissor-like gesture to support the women of Iran amid mass protests in their country. There are also calls for England players to do it by the families of Britons held by the Tehran regime.

    England’s Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Conor Coady with teammates on the pitch before the match

    The England team on the pitch ahead of the match with Iran

    Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, arrives at the stadium followed by star player Harry Kane ahead of the World Cup match in Doha

    David Beckham in Doha today where he is an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup

    Supporter John Booth lines up the beers in a Qatar pub as the Three Lions begin their World Cup campaign today

    England fans get the drinks in in Qatar

    Thousands of England fans have descended on Qatar and have managed to sniff out £12 pints ahead of the first match of the World Cup.

    England fans at the Villaggio Mall ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match

    Fans with England flags in the stadium before kick off

    England fans Joanne and Tony Bate outside of the stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha

    Supporters wore t-shirts in support of the protests in Iran for the match 

    England fans outside of the Khalifa Stadium in Qatar for the first match of the tournament for the Three Lions

    Paul and Carole Brocklesby from Hull in Qatar today on a trip that has cost them £50,000 – but said it will be ‘worth it’ if England win

    England and Iran fans outside of the stadium in Qatar,during the FIFA World Cup

    England and Wales football fans arrive at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

    Thousands of England fans are in Qatar for the match – although this is expected to peak for the Wales game

    Supporters wore their shirts and flags as they prepared to cheer on the Three Lions against Iran

    Alex Major and his father John before England’s big game today

    Videos showed England supporters downing drinks and singing songs in the hours before the game.

    Fans enjoy drinks before the game with around 3,000 supporters in Doha for the match

    An England fan adjusts his headdress at the traditional market Souq Waqif in Doha

    England’s Harry Kane during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club Stadium yesterday

    ‘Stop this insufferable virtue signalling!’ Viewers accuse Gary Lineker and Alex Scott of ‘hypocrisy’ as they give impassioned speeches about Qatar human rights record – from studio in stadium

    BBC’s Gary Lineker addressed the human right’s issues in Qatar in his opening monologue at the start of the organisation’s coverage

    Viewers of the first World Cup match have accused the BBC of brazen ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘virtue signalling’ as pundits launched into a segment about controversies and human rights issue in Qatar, while broadcasting live from a stadium in Doha as the tournament got underway on Sunday.

    Gary Lineker’s opening monologue for BBC‘s introduction to the World Cup addressed the human rights record in Qatar immediately. The controversial competition kicked off today with the host nation facing Ecuador in Group A, with the game live on the BBC.

    He had previously been criticised, along with other football commentators and journalists, for agreeing to attend and be paid for the tournament in Qatar given its deeply conservative stance on issues such as gay rights.

    Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams were working as pundits and also addressed Qatar’s behaviour since being handed the tournament. 

    The BBC showed the first live game, but opted only to show the opening ceremony, which featured disgraced actor Morgan Freeman, online. 

    Football fans reacted with anger to today’s coverage and said they simply wanted to watch the matches, pointing out that if the presenters were so concerned over human rights issues they could simply have refused to fly there instead.

    It is just one of multiple controversies to hit the tournament prior to kick-off, including a ban on alcohol in stadiums and the choice of Morgan Freeman to contribute to the opening ceremony. 

    One social media user said: ‘Gary Lineker on BBC News talking about the lack of human rights in Qatar. All while he’s sitting there and taking the money. The hypocrisy of the guy knows no bounds!’ 

    Other supporters also expressed their concern that talisman Kane could miss some of the World Cup, if he carries out his wish to wear a rainbow coloured armband in support of gay people in Qatar, where homosexuality is forbidden and punished by the law. 

    Alex Major, 20, from North London said: ‘Good for Harry Kane, but if he gets booked in two games, he’ll be suspended and that’s too much of a price to pay.’ The Arsenal fan added: ‘It could damage our World Cup hopes and cost us a lot.’

    His father, John added: ‘I have been to a lot of world cups. But the excitement of this one is just not the same.

    ‘I admire Harry Kane for taking a stance. But I wouldn’t be very happy if we ended up missing the match. He’s our best player. We need every player to fight as best as they can to bring the World Cup home.’

    Solicitor Karen Bareham, 60, from Guildford, Surrey, said it was ‘so far so good’ for her trip to Qatar as she arrived at the Khalifa International Stadium.

    Asked if the alcohol stadium ban had affected her plans, she told the PA news agency: ‘A little bit, I literally haven’t had a drink yet, I’m not saying I’m shaking but there’s a lot of conversation about where can we get a drink, it’s part of the football culture and that is how it is.’

    Ms Bareham added: ‘It is a change to what we would ordinarily do but so far so good, and then we’ve jumped on some Wales tickets for later tonight, so it’s two games for us today and then do a bit of sightseeing.’

    Ms Bareham, on England captain Harry Kane wearing the rainbow armband, said: ‘I think he should wear it, I think it’d be the right thing to do, if he picks up a yellow card so be it.’

    Shane Jackson, 33, from Malvern, Worcestershire, said: ‘They’re going to take the knee as well before the game, I think Harry Kane shouldn’t have the burden on him – of being booked should I wear it, should we focus on the football – the political stuff should be left behind, I know they’ve put their thoughts out on it, but let the players concentrate on the football now.’

    Christian Parker, 29, arrived on a shuttle flight from Dubai, where he lives.

    Speaking at the Khalifa International Stadium, Mr Parker told the PA news agency: ‘The Iranian fans were on the train as well, they’re a lot louder than us so far, we feel a bit outnumbered at the moment.’

    Reece Parker, 27, from London and who flew in from Dubai, said he expected a tight first game.

    He added on England’s chances: ‘We’ve got a good chance, I don’t think there’s any outstanding favourites.’

    Paul Dawson, 52, from Newcastle, who is also doing the matchday shuttle flights, said: ‘I hope we can win it, I will be pleased with the semi-final but quarter-final probably realistic.’

    Mr Dawson said the alcohol stadium ban had affected his plans ‘a little bit’, adding: ‘It’s not the end of the world, we’ll make up for it when we’re back in Dubai.’

    The FA expected a fine for breaching FIFA’s statutes but the prospect of Kane – arguably England’s most important player – being booked, and hence face suspension, was a scenario English football’s governing body were concerned about.

    Kane said: ‘We have made it clear as a team, staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband. I know the FA are talking to FIFA and by game time they will have had their decision’.

    Head coach Gareth Southgate added: ‘I know there are some conversations going on. A number of the European countries have spoken. We have made our position clear, so hopefully everything will be resolved before the game.’

    England are one of nine countries wearing the ‘One Love’ armband.

    Indeed, news of a possible booking also reached the Germany and Holland camp yesterday.

    Holland skipper Virgil van Dijk said ahead of his side’s game versus Senegal: ‘Nothing changed from our point of view.

    ‘If I will get a yellow card for wearing it then we would have to discuss it because I don’t like to play while being on a yellow.’

    But this morning Holland U-turned and said Virgil van Dijk will not wear it because ‘it was not possible to jointly come to a reasonable solution’ with FIFA.

    Less than an hour later – England and Wales followed suit. 

    The latest row comes after the competition got off to a tumultuous start on Sunday as it was officially opened by Morgan Freeman in a spectacular opening ceremony. 

    The actor, 85, who four years ago apologised following accusations of sexual harassment, raised eyebrows narrated a toe-curling segment titled The Calling, telling hundreds of millions of people watching around the world: ‘We all gather here in one big tribe.’

    When the action on the pitch finally began, two seconds early as the referee did not wait for the stadium countdown to be over, there was bad news for the host nation.

    Watched by the Gulf state’s royals and David Beckham, the home side lost 0-2 to Ecuador, whose fans mocked Qatar’s alcohol ban by chanting ‘queremos cerveza’, or ‘we want beer’. Beckham, who has been criticised for being a paid ambassador to the Qatar World Cup, watched from the VIP seats.

    The oil-rich nation has faced a barrage of criticism over its treatment of foreign workers, LGBT rights and social restrictions, staking its reputation on delivering a smooth tournament. It has been accused of trying to stage manage the World Cup with ‘fake fans’ to spin positive coverage. 

    In parts of the stadium the majority of seats were left empty for the second half of the match between Ecuador and Qatar

    England coach Gareth Southgate said he hopes ‘everything will be resolved before the game’ and said the team had made their feelings on the matter clear

    Rows of empty seats were visible behind Morgan Freeman as he narrates the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar

    There were scores of empty seats in the stadium during the opening ceremony of FIFA World Cup ahead of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador

    Disgraced actor Morgan Freeman (left) performed the opening segment with World Cup ambassador and Qatari citizen Ghanim al-Muftah (right)

    Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (left) waves to the crowd as he arrives with FIFA President Gianni Infantino (right) for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor

    What is the OneLove armband? 

    Nine countries including England and Wales had planned to sport the OneLove armband for this year’s tournament.

    The armband has its roots in the Netherlands and is designed to promote diversity and inclusion with football. 

    In 2021, Georginio Wijnaldum wore the armband at a European Championship game in Hungary with the consent of UEFA, the governing body of European football.

    It is a white armband with a heart emblazoned on it, accompanied by the words ‘One’ and ‘Love’.

    The armband was designed to advocate for the rights of the LGBT+ community, among other marginalised groups within football, and to support equality for all.

    Although it has a core message related to the LGBT+ community, it is far more than that, and represents a call to respect everyone’s human rights regardless of age, race, sexual or gender identity, nationality or disability.

    Yesterday, thousands of empty seats could be seen during the ceremony, but after the opening match kicked off at 4pm UK time, the stadium – designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent – appeared to suddenly fill, with many seats taken by the show’s performers.

    Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, presided over the ceremony, flanked by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who has drawn ridicule by branding European nations racist – and saying he understood discrimination because he grew up with ginger hair and freckles.

    Last night’s glitzy show, also featuring Jung Kook of South Korean boy band BTS, was intended to draw a line under the controversies. But even as it unfolded, riot police were called to tackle crowd chaos at a fan zone in the capital.

    A crush of tens of thousands of fans pushed and shoved against police lines to enter the Fifa Fan Festival on Doha’s Corniche, which has a giant TV screen for viewing matches and a beer tent. Riot police armed with batons and shields stood guard as supporters pleaded with officers to let them through. ‘It’s very risky – people could die,’ said one, Hatem El-Berarri.

    He said: ‘Old people, women, they cannot handle crowds like this.’ In a further blow to organisers, Colombian star Maluma, who sings on the World Cup’s official anthem, stormed out of a TV interview after being accused of ‘whitewashing’ human rights abuses in Qatar.

    During the show, in a pointed riposte to criticism over Qatar’s human rights record, Freeman put on an act with 20-year-old entrepreneur and influencer Ghanim al Muftah, who was born with caudal regression syndrome, a rare disorder which impairs the development of the lower spine.

    He said to the Hollywood star: ‘Come on over.’ When Freeman replied ‘I’m not sure, am I welcome?’, al Muftah said: ‘We sent out the call because everyone is welcome. This is an invitation to the whole world.’ Freeman, whose films include Hollywood classic The Shawshank Redemption, told crowds in the Al Bayt stadium: ‘How can so many countries, languages and cultures come together, if only one way is accepted?’ 

    Last week, Qatar’s Supreme Committee, run by the country’s morality sheikhs, slapped a last-minute ban on beer in the stadiums.

    Yesterday official sponsor Budweiser released a photo of tens of thousands of cans stacked in a warehouse, offering to give it all away to the World Cup winners. Morgan’s appearance at the ceremony comes four years after he was accused of sexual misconduct by eight women and issued an apology to ‘anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected’ by his behaviour, saying it was ‘never my intent’.

    Football fans reacted with fury on social media, with one remarking acidly: ‘It is so disappointing to see Morgan Freeman take the money and support an oppressive regime.’ Qatar last night said the crowd incident arose after the main gate was temporarily closed because the venue had reached capacity early.

    England 6-2 Iran: Gareth Southgate gets EVERY big call right as his record-breaking England team run riot… and even a worrying Harry Maguire injury and Iran’s two goals can’t halt England’s stunning momentum

    He preferred Bukayo Saka to Phil Foden and Saka scored, twice. He stuck with Raheem Sterling, who scored, and Harry Maguire who did everything but. He brought on Marcus Rashford and he got the fifth with his first involvement in the game. Wilson combined unselfishly with another substitute for the sixth. Harry Kane was the first man to make two goals in a World Cup match for England in 16 years.

    It was a clean sweep. All that can be asked of a manager is that he gets the big calls right and there was no shrewder judge than Gareth Southgate.

    This was England’s biggest win in the opening game of a World Cup and only the second time in history England have scored six at a major tournament. The first time was his, too – against Panama in 2018.

    Jack Grealish of England celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s sixth goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran

    England were superb as they brushed aside Iran to win 6-2 in dominant fashion – graphic form Sofascore

    Momentum is important at tournament and England have come out here like a drag racer with no parachute brake, They were 3-0 up at half-time and doubled that Tottenham despite making many second-half changes.

    The most worrying was Maguire, who looked as if he was undergoing concussion protocols. If verified, he will not play again in the group stage – and he was excellent. 

    So, one cloud. The rest, however, was blue sky all the way. Southgate’s most controversial call was the exclusion of Foden, but there were no further questions when Saka scored his second of the night, having brought his Arsenal form to Qatar.

    In the 62nd minute, Sterling played him in and he cut inside Majid Hosseini eventually steering his shot through a gathering of Iranian players. It was a beautiful moment, assured and confident. This could be his tournament.

    At which point, Southgate brought on the finishers and England completed their rout. Rashford had two touches before putting the ball in the net from Kane’s pass, but the first was to control the ball and the second was to take him past Hosseini again.

    Then with a minute to go of normal time – there were ten minutes injury time added, plus 14 in the first-half – Wilson broke and generously put the Grealish in rather than going it alone.

    So, perfect? Not entirely. Iran scored twice and only one wasn’t evidence of refereeing inconsistency. Their first, to make it 4-1, was a splendid finish from Mehdi Taremi, from Porto and arguably Iran’s leading player.

    The second was a deserved penalty, but only if referee Raphael Claus had awarded the one to England for an identical offence in the first-half. John Stones had a handful of Iranian shirt as the ball came into the area, but Maguire was as good as rugby tackled to the ground. Claus was asked to review one, not the other. VAR strikes again; as did Taremi, from the spot.

    If there is one trait of England sides under Gareth Southgate it is that they are quick starters. Even in their biggest losses – Croatia in the World Cup semi-final, Italy in the European Championship final – they were the team that scored first, and early. They were also the last to score three goals or more before half-time at the World Cup, against Panama in 2018. The next to do it? England again, here.

    It was a fabulous start. England were actually three goals up after 31 minutes given the enormous first-half delay caused by the injury to Iranian goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand. He was seriously injured in a collision with his own player Majid Hosseini after nine minutes. The pair ran into each other, face on, full pelt, a sickening clash. Equally repellent was the delay in removing Beiranvand. He required significant treatment the pitch around him littered with medical debris yet, incredibly, seemed to get the green light to carry on. He look dazed, possibly concussed. How do FIFA find time to obsess over armbands but do not have a clear and enforceable protocol over this?

    So Beiranvand continue, but was flat in his goalmouth almost immediately. Eventually a stretcher was summoned, as it should have been earlier, and he was replaced by Hossein Hosseini – no relation – who was making his competitive international debut. It showed. He didn’t have a save to make but was kept busy picking the ball from his net. It wasn’t that he was poor – no more so than the players in front of him, certainly – but he wasn’t commanding. For England’s first and third goals he was just nowhere. And England’s finishing was smart and clinical.

    The warnings were there from the start. One of the advantages of having Kieran Trippier back in the side it that he loves a first time cross. After just three minutes here he put one in which Raheem Sterling should have attacked. Should England have a penalty a minute later? Probably. Roozbeh Cheshmi was all over Harry Maguire at a corner, an infringement it was said FIFA’s officials would be particularly hot on at this tournament. So much for that. Brazilian referee Raphael Claus was not in a giving mood.

    Yet England were getting ever closer. In the 29th minute – but remember 14 would be added on – a cross from the right by Bukayo Saka was met by Mason Mount at the near post but turned into the side-netting. Soon after, a Trippier corner was met powerfully by Maguire but thundered off bar. It was like 2018 all over again.

    Without a doubt, aerial strength is hugely important for Southgate and England and, with 35 minutes gone, once again it broke the deadlock. It was the experienced Luke Shaw on the left who hit a lovely cross, but the scorer was a new name: Jude Bellingham, his first goal on his 18th international appearance but, on this showing, far from his last. Bellingham was a dynamic presence in midfield. He may need to be on the leash a little more against stronger opponents but Iran weren’t that. Hosseini was in no-man’s land, in no position to take the cross, in no position to guard his line, and the header easily defeated him. England were on their way.

    The second goal was a set piece of the type that are so effective against certain nations at this level. Shaw took the corner and this time Maguire was having none of Cheshmi or former Brighton man Alireza Jahanbaksh who were both on sentry duty. He bustled his way through the pair meeting the ball in true Slabhead style – the nickname bestowed on him by Jamie Vardy – and steering it in the direction of Saka. The first time hit from the edge of the area gave Hosseini no chance. To be fair, that might have been said of quite a few goalkeepers.

    Just two minutes later the contest was over. Jordan Pickford hit a long ball up to Kane, who laid it off to Saka, finding Bellingham on a driving forward run that took the ball deep into Iranian territory. He laid it off to Kane who crossed from the right, for Sterling to meet on the volley at the near post, his first World Cup goal in his third World Cup tournament. That’s why the manager keeps the faith. It was all coming up England, and Southgate.

    Follow Sportsmail’s live blog for England’s opening World Cup clash as they take on Iran in Group B. 

    This content was originally published here.

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