England routed Iran 6-2 in their World Cup opener today, and just about everybody got involved. Three Manchester United players were in Gareth Southgate’s first team: Harry Maguire (assist), Luke Shaw (assist) and Marcus Rashford (goal).
The trio all made contributions to what was an utter annihilation by Three Lions. While Maguire has only started three Premier League games this season, Southgate still loves this much maligned central defender.
Maguire played pretty well, especially by his recent standards, almost scoring in the first half, as one of his shots hit the cross bar. He was substituted in the 70′ for Eric Dier in what Southgate said was an illness.
Hmmm. Will be interesting to see what his status is for Friday against the United States. As for Shaw, he went the full 90 in a match that saw his side own 78% of possession.
He also contributed a great cross to help set up the opening goal of the goal of the game, scored by the youngest player in the team, Jude Bellingham.
Finally, Marcus Rashford, MBE, scored England’s fifth goal of the game, and his first ever in a major international tournament.
And it took him just 26 seconds on the pitch to do it.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 21, 2022
That said, Southgate still found some issues to be concerned about. The Three Lions gaffer is not happy about his defending.
“Look, we are really pleased to start the tournament in this way, really pleased with our attacking play,” Southgate said in his post match news conference.
“We know that Iran usually are very difficult to score goals against so it is a credit to our players, their movement, the quality of our passing, the quality of our finishing.
“I didn’t like the end of the game. To concede two goals the way we did isn’t the level we need. We are going to have to be better than we were today in certain aspects of our game against the USA because they are going to be coming for us full-throttle and we are going to have to reset.
“I don’t like games that drift as this one did and it was difficult because there was so much added time in both halves. I understand the focus drifting a little but that won’t be enough for us to progress in the tournament. So, we’ve still got a lot to do to qualify but of course this is a really good start for us.”
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”Follow paulmbanks