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Wonderkid Bellingham lives up to his number as England hit Iran for 6

England hit Iran for 6 yesterday to kick-start their World Cup campaign straight into action in Qatar. They were victorious 6-2 at the Khalifa International Stadium, and they could’ve had more as well, with Harry Maguire hitting the crossbar and unfairly not being awarded a penalty.

Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka (2), Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish all contributed to the score line sealing a stunning win for the Three Lions.

Both of Iran’s goals were scored by clinical frontman Medhi Taremi. The 6’2” Porto forward thumped home his first goal in the 65th minute and converted a controversially awarded penalty in the 103rd minute after a lengthy amount of added time.

Gareth Southgate has been under a lot of pressure before this World Cup with fans criticising him for his defensive style of football, but he couldn’t have set up more perfectly for this game.

The Three Lions started in a 4-2-3-1 depending on how you look at it, with West Ham’s Declan Rice, Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Jude Bellingham, and Chelsea’s Mason Mount just in front of them in midfield.

England dominated proceedings with an outrageous 78% possession, against an Iran side who are ranked 20th in the world. Iran are a decent side with a great defensive record heading into this tournament, conceding 2 goals in 5 games, and Southgate’s side made them look a lot worse than they are.

Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham were both involved the whole game, with the latter scoring the first goal of the game. It was Bellingham’s World Cup debut and his first goal ever in an England shirt.

England completed over 600 more passes than Iran and dominated the ball in the middle of the park, with Rice and Bellingham at the heart of that midfield.

Bellingham’s pass accuracy of 96% was incredible since he made over 10 forward passes into the final third of the pitch.

Bellingham had 113 touches overall, and Rice had 104, again proving how crucial they were in making sure England safely sailed to victory.

Back at Birmingham City, Bellingham started off wanting to be an attacking midfielder (number 10), but his coaches were convinced he could do it all. They asked him to become a ‘box-to-box’ midfielder, or an 8, before realising he could even play as a defensive midfielder, a 4.

His coaches decided that Bellingham can do it all, and added the numbers of the positions (4,8,10) to get 22, creating the brilliant story behind his unusual shirt number.

Even yesterday, this story runs true. Even with the attacking returns he will be plauded for, Bellingham still made a huge defensive contribution. Borussia Dortmund’s golden boy made the most tackles on the pitch (3) whilst maintaining a 100% tackle success rate. He also made 9 recoveries and won 75% of his ground duels.

The 19-year-old was instrumental to England’s performance yesterday and his heat map covered the whole pitch. Both Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice play years above what their age suggests, and it excites England fans not just for this World Cup, but also the major tournaments in years to come.

Looking ahead, England play the USA on Friday at the Al Bayt Stadium. The USA drew 1-1 with Wales after they became victims of a late Gareth Bale penalty. A win for England would secure a place in the knockout stages for the Three Lions, taking the pressure off and allowing them to rotate against Wales on Tuesday.

Iran head to the Al Rayyan Stadium to play Wales. They desperately need a win to get off the mark in Group B.


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