Match Report: England 6 Iran 2 (plus Wales win)

Match Report: England 6 Iran 2 (plus Wales win)

(Added material courtesy of Janette Sullivan)

All the games in Qatar were played against the backdrop of political shenanigans. ‘OneLove armband’ promoting diversity and inclusivity was under threat from Fifa of players being cautioned should they carry out the gesture of support, so that was dropped. Then there were people protesting over how migrant workers were treated, along with women. On top of all that, anything ‘Onelove/ rainbow shirts/ hats etc. was confiscated. Countries like this shouldn’t be part of the human decency race (but it is all about power, politics and guns), and they definitely should not be hosting such a prestigious competition.

This World Cup shouldn’t have been played in the winter months, either. Apart from world wars, this is the first time that the world cup has been played at this time of year. Fifa bowed to Qatar and sold their soul. The whole thing has been scandalous. Nevertheless, we are here, and now it is about the World Cup.

Tottenham have 12 players in this world cup: Bentancur, Uraguary, Davies and Rodon, Wales, Dier and Kane, England, Hojbjerg Denmark, Lloris, France, Perisic, Croatia, Richarlison, Brazil, Romero, Argentina, Sarr, Senegal and Son South Korea.

Of course, only Dier/ Kane, Hojbjerg, Lloris, Richarlison and Romero can do well out of this World Cup, going by the quality of the teams they are in(well, one would think), saying that Romero’s Argentina got humiliated by Saudia Arabia today (22nd), they lost 2-1 (even with Messi in the team).

To the match…

We were sitting comfortably in front of our TV set, waiting for the big moment… actually, Janette arrived home from work at 12.30… then we were seated comfortably for the game. Teas and snacks at the ready… we were off…

I don’t think any of us doubted England would win this game; we were more concerned with the scoreline. Nonetheless, upsets are possible, and you never know with Southgate’s teams.

England’s Fifa World Cup campaign opened in a thoroughly convincing fashion as we outclassed Iran in Doha.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that we walked to victory with our opponent’s powerless difficulty made crueller by the early loss of their goalkeeper to concussion after a clash of heads with team-mate Majid Hosseini (this held the game up for 14 minutes, which were added on at the end of half time).


Jude Bellingham got our first with a towering header from Luke Shaw’s cross 10 minutes before the break. The game was over before half-time thanks to Bukayo Saka’s fine strike and Raheem Sterling’s classy volley with the outside of his foot from Harry Kane’s cross; Kane, again, he might not have scored, but he certainly assisted.

Second half…

Saka got his second before Iran got their first goal when Mehdi Taremi scored a fine goal after 65 minutes. Southgate brought on the Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford (the school’s meal lad), who then netted another excellent, composed strike with his first participation.

Then in the 90th minute, Jack Grealish slotted home from close range after a good run and pullback by Callum Wilson.

Iran did pull another back in injury time (in the 103rd minute) when Taremi slotted in a penalty after a John Stones foul, but it was all over by then. The Iran crowd went wild… God knows what would have happened if they had won… to be fair, they would have been totally confused… wondering how their shit side could overcome a powerful English side… and, yes, we would be with them as well, thinking the same… but it didn’t happen (thank God… or should it be Allah?).

Even though this was a walk in the park, tougher opponents are ahead in our group stage (USA & Wales). But for now, we celebrate and pray to all the Gods that this World Cup will be ours, this time, as we’ve been praying ever since we lifted the World cup trophy 56 years ago (1966). Then Alf Ramsey was our manager (a Tottenham man). But that was then, now is what matters.


This beginning could hardly have gone better for England as our first major selection decision earnt a rich bonus, and the result was almost textbook. Iran were expected to provide stern resistance as they reside in the top 20 in the Fifa rankings and had a recent victory against Uruguay, however, we made light work of the task once Bellingham gave us the lead.

Bellingham, who plays for Borussia Dortmund, is one of the big names emerging from this World Cup.

This was only the second time we have scored six goals in a major tournament, but on this evidence, you would not bet against Bellingham being involved the next time it happens.

Southgate picked the Woolwich man, Saka, ahead of Manchester City’s Phil Foden, the only mildly antagonistic decision in his line-up. Still, after a good performance, there can be no arguments (unless you are a Spurs supporter or even a City one).

As I said earlier, it will get harder for us as we face the Yankees and the Welsh Tigers (with the two Spurs players in their side (Davies and Rodon), plus a former Spurs favourite, Bale).

Let us have a little word on our opponents… Iran

Iran suffered the early setback of losing their goalkeeper, but this was never going to change the course of the game, given the gulf in class between the two teams.

After 20 minutes of littered interruptions, this game only went one way.

Iran’s suppressed supporters had a moment of joy when their Taremi goal entered over our goal line, but there was little else to celebrate in this game as their team took a heavy beating.

Iran’s players and supporters used this global stage to clarify their feelings about the growing human rights protests against the ruling regime in their homeland. Their national anthem was shouted down by their supporters, and none of the Iran players opened their mouths for their national anthem (pissed off, or what!). Somebody will be in the shit when they get back home… but full marks to them for standing up against an evil power.

Iran were heavily supported inside the Stadium and regarded this as an ideal platform to make their protests clear. The football gave them few moments to cheer, but they were determined to make this day count.

USA 1 Wales 1

As we got a few players in the Wales team, let us give a few lines over to them.

Gareth Bale (a Spurs legend) rode to their rescue as his late penalty salvaged a draw against the United States in his country’s first World Cup game for 64 years. A game that our own Cliff Jones played a part in (he also was in our double-winning side in the 1960/61 season)…

Wales were lethargic and overrun in the first half, as they were dominated by a vibrant USA team, who led as Tim Weah finished after a surging run and pass by Christian Pulisic.

The half-time introduction of striker Kieffer Moore revitalised Wales, whose newfound energy and purpose turned a one-sided affair into an open contest as Tottenham’s Ben Davies and Moore both came close to equalising.

Then with nine minutes left, the anonymous (and he was anonymous throughout the game) Bale was brought down in the box by Walker Zimmerman before shooting his penalty into the net to send the travelling Welsh supporters behind that goal into euphoria. And we know that the Welsh love a pint or ten, so, no doubt they got smashed after the final whistle… whether that was with alcohol (because of the limitations of alcohol in that country) or strongly perfumed lemonade (it makes no difference to the Welsh, anything to sniff to get smashed).

Wales finished the game strongly, just glad to have secured a point when they had appeared to be heading for a defeat which would have left them staring at an early exit from the competition.

Instead, they will return to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Friday to face Iran, knowing that victory would give them a chance of progressing to the second round. And they should win this game… I have no doubt the Welsh will think it is impossible that such a country could overpower their Welsh pride and dragon-firing power.

Wales conclude the group stage against England a week Tuesday. No doubt the whole of the UK (ok, maybe not Scotland as they never made it… surprising (not!)) will be waiting with bated breath for this match. But thoughts of this game can wait as they savour this fightback and the good it will do for their hopes of extending their World Cup adventure.

The next match for us will be this Friday, against the USA. I should be at a Cricket celebration/ award ceremony (for a local cricket team). However, part of that award celebration will be fish and chips while watching the game on a big screen. Janette is a cricket scorer for her local team, so she will be part of the awards. And I also might add a few Spurs supporters amongst them (apart from me, Janette and myself).

Come on you Spurs players (but especially England… who I hope will smash them all to lift that special World Cup Trophy! I maybe dreaming, but why not… that is what we do at Tottenham… dreaming of a trophy… well, one day!).



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