Sunday, November 27, 2022

England 2-0 against Iran at the start of the World Cup season

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Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka scored the goals roughly within ten minutes at Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium.

England manager Gareth Southgate made just two changes from last summer’s final defeat at Euro 2020 when he relied on a proven side in the World Cup opener against Iran.

Bukayo Saka, who missed the crucial penalty in the shoot-out loss to Italy, joined the team alongside Bellingham, with Southgate appearing to set up a back four.

Without a win in six games, the England manager stuck with the players he knows, with Harry Kane in charge of the side.

Jordan Pickford was recalled in goal after missing September’s international break through injury.

There was also a start for Harry Maguire despite being dropped by Manchester United in recent weeks.

As England manager Southgate had promised, his team bowed their knees before kick-off. The now well-known anti-discrimination stance was adopted by the side for a streak of 33 games before the start of the current season.

The English sang God Save the King, but the Iranian players didn’t show up to sing their national anthem.

Iran’s beach soccer, water polo and basketball teams have all recently avoided the anthem in solidarity with the protesters in their home country.

Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was substituted within the first 30 minutes of the game after colliding with teammate Majid Hosseini. He had a bloody nose and required treatment on the pitch for several minutes.

Hours away from the opening game was Harry Kane urged not to wear an armband expressing solidarity with LGBT+ people during World Cup matches.

The FA – along with the football associations of five other countries – have urged their captains not to wear the ‘OneLove’ armbands amid threats of sanctions from FIFA.

An outcry followed, with fan groups and activists saying the last-minute decision “showed the true colors of FIFA”.

Meanwhile, British-Iranian comedians urged English players to make a symbolic gesture against the Iranian regime’s crackdown on protesters.

Omid Djalili speaks to Latest Page News’s Good Morning Britain about the protests in Iran

Omid Djalili, who was born in London to Iranian parents, said the people of Iran are “protesting against gender apartheid” and said the country should have been “kicked out” from the tournament.

He added in a video posted to Twitter: “My message to England players now is that you have a huge opportunity to make a massive global impact with a very, very small gesture.

“And I think that players from England, Wales and the USA when they score a goal, if you just make that one simple statement like ‘clip your hair’, it sends a big message to the women and girls of Iran.”

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Iranian-born British comedian and actress Shaparak Khorsandi said in a response to the video: “Iran doesn’t allow women and girls in stadiums, Russia isn’t allowed at the World Cup, neither should Iran.”

She added: “A small gesture, football is for everyone. Freedom is for everyone.”

At 19:00 (GMT), Wales, who are in the same group as the Three Lions, meet the USA at the 40,000 capacity Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

England and Wales will hope to get off to a good start, picking up points in their second games later in the week before meeting in their last game of the group stage next week.

England manager Gareth Southgate made just two changes from last summer’s final defeat at Euro 2020 when he relied on a proven side in the World Cup opener against Iran.

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