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England v IR Iran: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

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Two Up, Two Down: What positives and negatives can we take from England’s win over Iran?

The Three Lions got their 2022 World Cup campaign off to a solid start with a six-goal victory. What were the positives and negatives to take from the game?

Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Sean Brown says…

A brilliant performance from England!

The lads absolutely destroyed a fairly decent Iran side.

The football played was fantastic and the goals scored were quite sublime, although how much the latter had to do with the amazing hit Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand took in a collision with his own player early in the first half - resulting in a nose injury worthy of a stoppage in MMA - we’ll never know.

A backlash against the host nation

Qatar has attempted to engage in a sportswashing exercise, and they're now taking a rinsing from a world that, a decade or so ago, didn’t even realise they existed as a state, let alone the true extent of their government’s crimes against humanity... but if you don't want scrutiny, don't invite the entire sodding planet to your own bloodstained doorstep only to get angry when people ask who all the blood belongs to.

Another dreadful backdrop to the tournament

As the match was being played, the Iranian state was engaged in the indiscriminate murder of its own citizens.

Search ‘Javanrud’ or just ‘Iran’ and if you’re of a mind to do so - try to understand the brutality being endured right now by those suffering under a hateful and tyrannical regime, or don’t do that at all and don’t go complaining about people who do? Up to you of course.

Today I feel an armband

Harry Kane didn’t wear the OneLove armband, because apparently expressing a modicum of visible solidarity with people who are regularly imprisoned, flogged, beaten, chemically castrated, psychologically/physically tortured and murdered for their sexuality is somehow deemed a political statement - or Islamaphobic even - by a large number of utterly hilarious individuals.

Yet if everyone insists on making this a political argument as opposed to what it actually is:

In my humble opinion if a government or religion is discriminatory in any way, it isn’t the fault of those being discriminated against - or a valid defense of crimes against humanity committed by a government influenced or guided by said religion - and yes my government and the religions that influenced it is and was responsible for many crimes. I acknowledged and opposed many of them and I still do.

I'd say refusing to acknowledge anything - or responding to valid criticism - by merely saying “respect our culture and values” does not negate the terrible price paid by those suffering or who have suffered, or mean that the terrible things being done now are any less terrible than they actually are.

It's all a bit insane - especially as according to certain Qatari social media influencers and many more delightful human beings - homophobia is a source of great pride in Qatar, much like it is in the United Arab Emirates (where Sunderland are currently training) and of course in Saudi Arabia and across the rest of the gulf states. It seems to be a source of pride for many nations of varying religious and ethnic majorities, but believe it or not lads and lasses this is not a good thing - so if you can - try your very hardest not to let anyone convince you it is, and always remember to keep polo necks out of fußbal.

Republic of Ireland v Norway - International Friendly Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

Creativity from England

It’s very easy for World Cup group stage games to be dull and dour but we opened Iran up with some real quality.

If this turns out to be a tournament during which we score lots of goals and really embrace the young talent we have, it may well be worth more of a watch than many thought.

Sharing the goals around

Harry Kane didn’t score, but the spread of goals throughout the team was fantastic.

We also had a mix of headers, volleys and cut-backs, and the variation in both the player who got the final touch and those involved in setting the goals up was lovely.

VAR fails again

If that 102nd minute incident was deemed worthy of a penalty, then the offence on Harry Maguire in the early stages should’ve seen England awarded two spot kicks!

The tournament has only just begun, and already VAR is a mess.

No clean sheet

Although Jordan Pickford made a couple of good saves, especially the late tip over the bar, it would’ve been great to keep a clean sheet, to go with the six goals we scored.

We’ve got lots to work on, but a great result for England and not one I can see our group stage opponents matching.

England v IR Iran: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images

Luke Davies says…

The young lions come of age

So many of England’s young players took the bull by the horns and played with the freedom to express themselves!

At times, the likes of Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka embarrassed an Iranian team who are renowned for being organised and hard to play against.

With Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford impressing off the bench, it really was a breath of fresh air after England’s stagnation during the Nations League.

An excellent result

Negative England fans might look at Iran and suggest that 6-2 is the expectation.

However, the fact is that Iran don’t lose many games and when they do, they never get a pasting. You’d have to go all the way back to January 2019 to see Iran lose by more than two goals, and a further nine years, to a 2010 friendly vs Brazil, for the time before that!

Yesterday’s result was the first time Iran have lost an official international match by more than three goals.

Another VAR shambles

Quite why the referee was sent over to the monitor to look at the Iranian penalty claim, but not England’s penalty shout in the first half was farcical.

Luckily it had no impact on the outcome of the match, but it could’ve done, and it’s unacceptable.

Defensive concerns

John Stones aside, our central defensive options really concern me, and after seeing how brilliant we were going forward yesterday, I feel that if we do exit the World Cup early, it’ll be because of Harry Maguire or Eric Dier switching off, with only an internationally-inexperienced Conor Coady as backup.

England v IR Iran: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

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