What happened at the World Cup on Monday?
England 6—2 Iran
- England thumped Iran 6-2 following two goals from Arsenal winger Bakayo Saka and one from Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham, Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, and Manchester City’s Jack Grealish.
- Iran’s Mehdi Taremi, a striker for Porto, scored two goals.
- Iran goalkeeper Beyranvand was taken off injured after suffering a head injury. His replacement then conceded three first-half goals.
- The Iran team declined to sing the country’s national anthem before kick-off, in a gesture seen as a show of support for the anti-government protest movement at home which has been severely repressed by the authorities.
- Earlier, England was among seven European teams — along with Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark — to say their captains would not be wearing “One Love” armbands to show support for the LGBT community after FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing one in Qatar, where homosexuality remains illegal.
- National football associations said they were “frustrated” by the “unprecedented” action by FIFA, saying in a joint statement “we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings”.
Netherlands 2—0 Senegal
- The Netherlands got their campaign underway with one of the toughest-looking group fixtures against African champions Senegal.
- The Dutch came out on top 2-0 with two late second half goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen, who scored deep into stoppage time. The first half of the Group A match had ended 0-0 at Al Thumama Stadium as the Dutch were left to rue missed chances.
- The Dutch are without the services of Memphis Depay, who was the team’s top scorer during the World Cup qualifying campaign.
- Senegal, too, are missing a key player: former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
- “He can break open a match and Senegal will really miss him – but the same applies to us, we are missing our top scorer and king of the assists,” said Dutch boss Louis van Gaal, 71, who announced last year he has prostate cancer and has been receiving radiation treatment.
- Van Gaal has been critical of awarding Qatar the World Cup but refused to answer political issues ahead of Monday’s game.
- The Netherlands is one of the seven European nations whose captains had planned to wear “One Love” armbands but who decided against the move on Monday, following FIFA’s threat of sporting sanctions.
- “It is with a heavy heart that we… had to decide to abandon our plan,” the Dutch football association KNVB said, adding that it was “deeply disappointed” and would now “critically look at our relation with FIFA”.
USA 1—1 Wales
- USA and Wales tied 1-1. The former obtained a goal from by Lille winger Timothy Weah in the first half, and the latter saw one scored by veteran striker and Los Angeles FC player Gareth Bale in the penalties.
- Wales has made its first World Cup appearance in 64 years. With a population of just over three million, Wales is the smallest FIFA member nation to qualify for this year’s World Cup — host Qatar received an automatic berth.
- The USA returned to World Cup action for the first time since 2014.
- “Schools are going to stop to watch our games,” said Wales’s Gareth Bale before the match, beaming. “So it’s just one of those moments that is a massive piece of history in our country, something that we’ve all wanted for a long time.”
What happened at the World Cup on Sunday?
The large swathes of empty seats in the second half summed up the Qatar soccer team’s disappointing start to its first-ever World Cup.
The night started with more than 67,000 mostly Qatari fans filling the cavernous Al Bayt Stadium, enjoying an opening ceremony that showcased the tiny Arab emirate to a global audience 12 years after winning the right to host soccer’s biggest event.
It ended with Qatar’s overmatched team trudging off the field, its unwanted place in soccer history secure and many of its dismayed fans having long disappeared.
The controversy-laced tournament opened Sunday with the 2019 Asian Cup champions getting outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, ensuring a host team lost its opening game for the first time at a World Cup.
“I would say we felt bad (for our supporters),” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said. “I hope in the next game they will be prouder.”
Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored both of his team’s goals in the first half of a one-sided game that wound up being a damage-limitation exercise for Qatar on one of the biggest nights in the nation’s history.