CHRIS SUTTON'S RATINGS: Saka justified decision to start him

CHRIS SUTTON’S ENGLAND RATINGS: Jude Bellingham showed why he’s THE player to watch at the World Cup… while Bukayo Saka justified Gareth Southgate’s decision to start him over Phil Foden

  • England got their World Cup off to a perfect start with a 6-2 win over Iran 
  • Jude Bellingham netted the opener and it’s hard not to get excited over his future
  • Bukayo Saka justified Gareth Southgate’s decision to start him on the right wing 
  • Jordan Pickford will be disappointed that he didn’t keep a clean sheet on Monday
  • Harry Maguire was caught out for Iran’s first goal but had a good overall display 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

There was plenty to be left impressed by as England got their World Cup campaign underway with a thumping 6-2 victory over Iran.

Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish all netted in what was a near-perfect opening display by Gareth Southgate’s side.

Sportsmail’s CHRIS SUTTON rules the roost as he gives his verdict on how England players performed at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar. 

There were some top performances all around as England cruised to win against Iran

ENGLAND (4-3-3)

Jordan Pickford – 6/10

Iran scored from two of their three shots on target, but Pickford’s finger-tipped save to deny Sardar Azmoun bagging them a third goal was brilliant.. England’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper left disappointed to not have a clean sheet. It happens!

Saves – 1

Passes completed – 28 

Iran scored two out of three shots on target though Jordan Pickford did produce a top save

Kieran Trippier – 7.5/10

Trippier’s balls into the box were deadly, one cross leading to a Maguire header against the crossbar. Newcastle’s right back is reliable down that flank and with no Reece James, this set-piece specialist showed why he’s a sure starter for England.

Passes completed – 88

Tackles – 5

Blocks – 0 

John Stones – 7/10

While there’s been the debate over whether Maguire should be at this World Cup, let alone starting, there is no doubting Stones. He was on cruise control for most of this match – the only disappointment being VAR’s harsh penalty awarded against him.

Passes completed – 117

Tackles – 0

Blocks – 0 

John Stones (right) was in cruise control but will be disappointed to give away a harsh penalty

Harry Maguire – 7/10

Caught out by Mehdi Taremi’s run for Iran’s opener but overall, Maguire put in a good performance amid the pressure on him. Opponents are petrified of him at set pieces and his cushioned header for Saka’s first goal was as legal as it was smart.

Passes completed – 74

Tackles – 1

Blocks – 0 

Harry Maguire frightened Iran at set pieces and put in a good performance for England

Luke Shaw – 7.5/10

Lovely left-footed cross for Bellingham to open the scoring and start the party for England after 35 minutes. Dealt well with Iran’s roughhousing and his high and wide runs down that flank meant Sterling could come inside closer to Kane.

Passes completed – 104

Tackles – 0

Blocks – 0 

Jude Bellingham – 8.5/10

Last week I named Bellingham as the player I was most looking forward to watching at this World Cup. We all saw why against Iran. England’s 19-year-old headed home the opener and it’s hard not to get excited about this starlet’s future.

Passes completed – 96

Tackles – 3

Shots – 1 

Jude Bellingham headed home the opener and it’s hard not to get excited about his future

Mason Mount – 8/10

One of Southgate’s favourites. James Maddison is still pushing for a start but Mount put in a nice all-round performance. Chelsea’s inventive midfielder was tidy in his passing and tireless in his pursuit of the ball in this comfortable opener.

Passes completed – 36

Tackles – 1

Shots – 1 

Declan Rice – 8/10

West Ham’s captain helped maintain control in midfield. On the rare occasions England lost the ball, he was there to sweep up and win it back. Forever in the right place at the right time and showed why he’s a must-start.

Passes completed – 95

Tackles – 1

Shots – 0 

Bukayo Saka – 9/10

Man of the match who justified Southgate’s decision to start him on the right wing over his competition. Iran couldn’t live with Saka, the Arsenal starlet whose two clinical finishes on his World Cup debut made sure this match was England’s.

Passes completed – 28

Shots – 3

Dribbles – 1 

Bukayo Saka justified his selection in the starting eleven by scoring a brace against Iran

Harry Kane – 8/10

No goals for himself, and deep down, Kane will be gutted not to have got on the scoresheet. But England’s captain fantastic played his part by setting up Saka and Rashford for their strikes. Another commanding showing from one of the world’s best strikers.

Passes completed – 13

Shots – 0

Dribbles – 1 

Raheem Sterling – 8.5/10

Sterling’s first World Cup goal showed why he is a starter on that left wing under Southgate. Not been at his best for Chelsea, but then I wouldn’t be very effective at wing-back either! Sterling rose to the occasion for England here.

Passes completed 29

Shots – 1

Dribbles – 2 

Harry Kane (left) played his part in the victory setting up Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford  while Raheem Sterling (right) showed why he started despite his lack of form at Chelsea


Gareth Southgate – 8/10

Made the right decision to go with a back four as England imposed themselves on Iran. Conceding twice was unfortunate but when you stick six past your opponents, how can we complain? A sure start to this World Cup for England’s manager.

Gareth Southgate made the right decision to go with a back four in England’s opening victory


Jack Grealish (for Saka, 71) – 7/10

Touching celebration dedicated to Finley, a young Manchester City fan with cerebral palsy who he promised a special dance the next time he scored. Grealish kept his word as he came on and completed this winning World Cup opener.

Passes completed – 19

Shots – 1

Dribbles – 0 

Marcus Rashford (for Sterling, 71) – 7/10

The stadium announcer was still declaring the substitutes when Rashford scored! It was a composed finish after a lovely lay-off from Kane. Good to see Manchester United’s forward getting in on the goals. He can have an impact in Qatar.

Passes completed – 18

Shots – 2

Dribbles – 1 

Marcus Rashford scored as the stadium announcer was still declaring that he was being brought on as a substitute – the Manchester United star could have an impact at the World Cup

Phil Foden (for Mount, 71) – 6.5/10

Another of this England group to make their World Cup debuts and what a fun occasion it will have been for Manchester City’s talented 22-year-old. As a starter or a substitute, you always have the sense that Foden can make something happen.

Passes completed – 18

Tackles – 0

Shots – 0 

Eric Dier (for Maguire, 70) – 6/10

Replaced Maguire for the final 20 minutes when England were coasting. If Southgate uses a back three, he may call on Dier as a starter given he’s so used to that system for Tottenham. But for now, he’s a good back-up.

Passes completed – 30

Tackles – 0 

Blocks – 0 

Callum Wilson (for Kane, 76) – 7/10

Southgate will have loved seeing his substitute’s unselfishness late on when this game was already won. Another striker might have had the World Cup stars in his eyes and gone for glory. But Wilson teed up Grealish for England’s sixth instead.

Passes completed – 4

Shots – 0 

Dribbles – 0 

Callum Wilson was unselfish as he teed up Jack Grealish instead of going for glory 


Raphael Claus – 5

No Christmas presents for England from Raphael Claus, the Brazilian born in Santa Barbara d’Oeste. But Claus did give Iran a late gift with that penalty. Thankfully the officiating had little impact on England’s ability to win this World Cup opener comfortably.

IRAN (5-4-1): Beiranvand 5 (Hosseini 19, 3); Moharrami 3, Pouraliganji 3, Cheshmi 3 (Ezatolahi 45, 3), Hosseini 3, Mohammadi 4 (Torabi 63, 5); Jahanbakhsh 4 (Kanaanizadegan 45, 4), Nourollahi 4 (Azmoun 77), Karimi 4 (Gholizadeh 45, 4); Hajsafi 4; Taremi 6

Mehdi Taremi was Iran’s star performer as Porto attacker took his goal well against England


Carlos Queiroz – 3

Iran got two goals – one from a nice run in behind by their striker, the other a needless penalty – but Queiroz’s side were never truly in this contest. England dominated from start to finish when most of our score predictions had this being a tighter match against the team ranked 20th in the world.


The handling of Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand’s head injury was abysmal. Football’s concussion procedures are embarrassingly bad and that was emphasised on the world stage. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the game’s authorities do not care about the players’ welfare.

Iran’s handling of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand’s first-half head injury was abysmal

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