Declan Rice celebrates with Bukayo Saka

Rice helps England make winning start at World Cup

Declan Rice helped England make a winning start to their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 6-2 victory over Iran on Monday afternoon.

Starting in a deep-lying central midfield role at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar, Rice was at his quietly influential best, using the ball intelligently and positioning himself importantly.

The West Ham United captain saw 92 of his 95 pass attempts find a teammate for a superb 96.8% completion rate, while he dovetailed superbly with midfield partner Jude Bellingham, who scored England’s opening goal.

Earning his 35th cap, Rice also made a team-high three interceptions, one tackle and blocked a second-half shot from Mehdi Torabi as the Three Lions completed their biggest-ever win in an opening match at a major tournament.

Gareth Southgate’s side wore down a determined Iran side, who lost goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand to an early head injury, and were 3-0 up by half-time after Bellingham’s header, Bukayo Saka’s shot and Raheem Sterling’s volley.

Saka’s low finish made it 4-0 on 62 minutes before Mehdi Taremi pulled a goal back with a well-struck effort past Jordan Pickford.

Substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish added a fifth and sixth for England before Taremi’s late penalty reduced England’s final margin of victory and denied them a repeat of their record World Cup win – 6-1 against Panama in the group stage in Brazil four years ago.

Rice and England face the USA in their second group-stage fixture at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday 25 November at 7pm GMT, before tackling Wales – who have reached their first World Cup finals in 64 years and drew 1-1 in their tournament opener against the USA – at Al Rayyan Stadium on Tuesday 29 November at 7pm GMT.


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