FIFA World Cup 2022: England vs Iran, goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand allowed to stay on after concussion collision, reaction

England started its World Cup with a crushing 6-2 victory over the world’s 20th-ranked nation, Iran, scoring three goals in each half.

Political controversies hung over this match, with England electing not to wear an armband signalling support for LGBTQ rights hours before kick-off under pressure from FIFA.

Meanwhile Iran’s players remained pointedly silent during their national anthem in an apparent show of support for protesters back home.

The biggest controversy of the actual match happened before a goal was scored, when Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was flattened by a head clash with one of his own players.

Medical staff spent the better part of 10 minutes examining Beiranvand, who seemed visibly disoriented and yet wanted to remain on the field.

After a change of jersey, and despite fears that he may have been concussed, the keeper did indeed try to play on. But a minute later he signalled to the bench, indicating he needed to go off, and sunk back to the ground before being substituted.

Baffled football fans and experts couldn’t understand why the keeper was allowed to stay on in the first place.

England Shearer Alan Shearer told BBC Sport: “Clearly he was never in any fit state. You’re never going to get a player to say ‘yeah, I want to come off’. Players will say they are fine and quite clearly he wasn’t fine. They’ve even introduced another person, a medical advisor, in the stands to look at video footage to give advice to medics around the pitch. What on earth is he doing?

“They are failing players, IFAB (International Football Association Board), by not introducing a temporary substitution.”

Former England women’s goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain told the BBC: “It’s unbelievable. It shouldn’t be left in his hands.

“He shouldn’t have been allowed to continue. It was a horrible collision. I thought it was crazy and I’m really pleased that he did go off pretty much straight away afterwards.”

“Cannot believe Alireza Beiranvand has been allowed to continue. That is so, so dangerous,” said The Daily Mail’s women’s football correspondent Kathryn Batte.

“There’s no way Beiranvand should be allowed to continue after that collision. Even though he’s coming off now, he should have gone straight off,” said former player David Meyler.

And former England star Jermaine Jenas was blunt: “This really is unacceptable.”

As play continued without the injured keeper, the deadlock was broken in the 35th minute. England’s Jude Bellingham aimed a precise header into the corner of Iran’s goal after a cross from the left by Luke Shaw.

Eight minutes later, the margin was doubled. From an England corner, the ball was headed down into the centre of the box and buried in the net off the left foot of young Arsenal star Bukayo Saka.

Iran’s players mobbed the referee in protest, though it wasn’t clear why, and the goal was upheld a short time afterwards.

The next one came from a goalkick, which was controlled by England around the halfway line. After some lovely build-up, Harry Kane measured a cross in to Raheem Sterling, who was practically unmarked and finished deftly.

In a sign of just how much time the injury had soaked up, there were 14 minutes of stoppage time in the first half.

It took a little longer than expected, perhaps, for England to increase its lead in the second half. A touch after the hour mark, Saka received the ball towards the right edge of the box and was given oodles of time to cut back towards the centre on his favoured left boot.

His tame shot made it past the replacement Iranian keeper as he merely stood and watched.

Then, out of pretty much nowhere, Iran nabbed a goal. After some nice build-up on the right wing, the ball trickled in to Mehdi Taremi inside the box, and he fired a shot into the net off the underside off the crossbar.

Marcus Rashford restored England’s dominance in the 71st minute, receiving the ball with plenty of space on the right side of the box, cutting inside his defender, and steering it nicely into the net.

On the cusp of stoppage time, an English break led to Callum Wilson speeding into the box down the right before pulling it back for Jack Grealish, who had an easy finish for 6-1.

And there was one last whiff of controversy deep in stoppage time as the VAR system got involved. After what appeared to be a fairly innocuous run of play, with a free kick from Iran being cleared, the referee reviewed the footage and decided defender John Stones had tugged on an Iranian shirt. He pointed to the spot, and Taremi scored his second.

But that late goal didn’t take much of the sheen off a strong opening performance from England, who snapped a six-game winless streak.

England 6 (Bellingham 35m, Saka 43m, 62m, Sterling 45, Rashford 71, Grealish 90) Iran 2 (Taremi 65, 90)

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