World-2022: England crushes Iran after a match rich in symbolic gestures
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Serious and applied, England, vice-champion of Europe, logically beat (6-2) a disappointing Iranian team during a match marked by the strong gesture of Iranian footballers: the eleven players of Team Melli refrained from singing the national anthem in support of the victims of the harshly suppressed demonstrations in their country.

After a calamitous campaign in the Nations League including a humiliating 4-0 conceded against Hungary, many wondered about the state of form of the England team. But the Three Lions removed all doubts by making a convincing entry into the 2022 World Cup against an Iranian team quickly overtaken by events.

With more than 73% possession, the English literally confiscated the ball in the first 25 minutes of play. Regrouped in their own half of the field, the Iranian team was reduced to running in the void and suffering the English assaults. The first alert comes in the 7th minute on a center at the far post from the right side. But defender Harry Maguire, too short, can only push the ball into the outside of the side netting.

On the action, goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand and his defender Majid Hosseini collide. The shock is incredible. After long minutes on the ground and an attempt to regain his place, the Iranian goalkeeper, hero of the last World Cup in Russia after his penalty saved against Cristiano Ronaldo, must leave his teammates.

Without their titular goalkeeper and deprived of their star striker, Sardar Azmoun, who remained on the bench for a calf injury, the Iranians get annoyed and multiply the faults. Impressive in the elimination phase, the “Team Melli” seems unable to oppose any resistance to the vice-champion of Europe. On a corner, Harry Maguire, still finds him, the crossbar.

The English end up concretizing their domination in the 31st minute by passing once again by the sides. Following a nice movement on the left side, Jude Bellingham, 19, the nugget of Borussia Dortmund, opened the scoring with a magnificent uncrossed header.

England executives respond

The English machine is launched. Three minutes later, 21-year-old Bukayo Saka took advantage of a header from a corner to trigger a left-footed half-volley under the bar of substitute goalkeeper Seyed Hossein Hosseini.

If the English youth is clearly there during the match, the executives of Gareth Southgate are not left out. Shortly before the end of the first half, captain Harry Kane works on the right side then escapes the marking thanks to a feigned body to deliver a perfect cross taken by Raheem Sterling, the most capped of the Three Lions with 79 selections.

On the restart, Carlos Queiroz decides to make three changes to try to transform the face of a one-sided meeting. But the start of the second half is like the first 45 minutes: England dominates and Iran takes the water. 61st minute, Bukayo Saka, very close with his club Arsenal, fixes the defenders at the entrance to the area then easily eliminates two players before slipping the ball into the back of the net.

The addition begins to be salty. Fortunately, three minutes later, the Iranian supporters were back in action thanks to FC Porto striker Mehdi Taremi, who took advantage of a deep pass to shoot Jordan Pickford, who until then had had no intervention to perform. But the euphoria is short-lived. In the aftermath, Marcus Rashford, who came into play just seconds before, scored his 13th goal for the selection. At the end of the match, Jack Grealish completes the English demonstration with a center withdrawal.

silent hymn

Before the final whistle, the Iranians manage to reduce the mark on penalty after a pulling of shirt of Luke Shaw. Despite the river score and a generally disappointing performance, the main thing for the Iran team seemed elsewhere during this meeting at a time when demonstrations for women’s rights are multiplying across the country. The eleven Iranian players thus refrained from singing their national anthem before kick-off in support of the victims of the repression orchestrated by Tehran.

Asked on Wednesday whether the “Team Melli” players intended not to sing the national anthem, striker Alireza Jahanbakhsh said the matter was “under discussion” and would be taken “collectively”. He also explained that whether or not to celebrate a possible goal during the World Cup would be a “personal” choice.

In the stands, a few signs also flourished, calling for respect for women’s rights in Iran. Before the match, Iranian supporters spontaneously shouted the name of Mahsa Amini, who died on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police.

For their part, the English players knelt down to denounce the “inequalities”. A gesture validated by FIFA, unlike the rainbow armband “One Love”, abandoned Monday morning by seven European nations under the threat of sporting sanctions. Captain Harry Kane still insisted on wearing a black armband during the meeting against Iran on which was written “No discrimination”.

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