Gareth Southgate warns England to improve focus after 6-2 win over Iran


Gareth Southgate warned that England must improve their focus after his side began their World Cup with a crushing 6-2 win against Iran.

England played magnificent attacking football during their opening match in Group B, with Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham in particularly bewitching form. However Southgate was unhappy that his side let the game drift during the second half, allowing Mehdi Taremi to give the scoreline a more respectable look with two late goals, and he wants his players to sharpen up against the USA on Friday.

“We are really pleased to start the tournament in this way and really pleased with our attacking play,” England’s head coach said. “I didn’t like the end of the game. To concede two goals the way we did isn’t the level we need.

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“We are going to have to be better in certain aspects of our game against the USA because they are going to be coming for us full-throttle. I don’t like games that drift. It was difficult because there was so much added time in both halves. I understand the focus drifting but that won’t be enough for us to progress in the tournament, so we still have a lot to do to qualify.”

England swept to victory thanks to two goals from Saka and efforts from Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford. Southgate delivered an optimistic update on Kane. The captain needed treatment after a bad tackle in the second half, was substituted late on and left the stadium with strapping on his right ankle. Southgate added that Harry Maguire was substituted because he was feeling ill.

There was early controversy when Iran allowed their goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand to try to continue after he suffered a nasty head injury. A bloodied Beiranvand carried on after a lengthy delay but went down again when the game resumed. The incident drew criticism from the brain injury charity Headway.

“You are not able to stop the player bleeding, so apparently it’s related to the nose broken,” Carlos Quieroz, Iran’s manager, said. “We thought he could keep going but we had some signs of the possibility of concussion. It was not clear but one minute after the player was not able to keep going and he suffered a serious concussion and is on the way to the hospital to have final examinations. There was doubt between the broken nose and the concussion.”

Headway said allowing Beiranvand to carry on was an “utter disgrace” and added: “This was the first test of the Fifa World Cup concussion protocol and it was an abject failure.”



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