2022 World Cup – Tuesday 22 November 2022
Group B: England 6 (3) – (0) 2 Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan)
England scorers: Bellingham (35′), Saka (43′, 62′), Sterling (45’+1’), Rashford (71′), Grealish (90′)
Iran scorers: Taremi (65′, 90’+13’ pen)
Group A: Senegal 0 (0) – (0) 2 Netherlands (Al Thumama Stadium, Doha)
Netherlands scorers: Gakpo (84′), Klaassen (90’+9’)
Group B: USA 1 (1) – (0) 1 Wales (Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan)
USA scorer: Weah (36’) Wales scorer: Bale (82’ pen)
So what of day two of the World Cup? England romped to victory over Iran, Netherlands scored two late goals to see off Senegal and of course Gareth Bale rescued a point for Wales against the USA.
The Three Lions victory was quite astonishing given the often pragmatic approach Gareth Southgate’s team have adopted in their tournament games. However, it was a bright and breezy attacking performance from England’s young guns in Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Sako which set the team on the way to three points. There was our old friend VAR which had an interesting day. Harry Maguire was man-handled at a first-half corner with no penalty awarded and no VAR check. Fast forward to time added on in the second half and a shirt pull saw a penalty for Iran. If that really was worthy of a penalty then in reality there would be a spot-kick awarded at every corner kick. Just where is the consistency with the technology?
I’m genuinely struggling to get into this tournament. I did watch the England game but really with only half an eye as I was working in my laptop and didn’t even tune in for the other two games of the day.
To add to my down mood…the pressure from FIFA, i.e. yellow cards for players, if wearing the One Love armbands. Disappointing that FIFA resorted to this and that the various nations bowed to the pressure. Well done to Alex Scott for wearing one though whilst presenting though. Another unacceptable situation from the day – the most expensive World Cup ever and the ticketing system and associated app failed for fans crashes leaving them unable to gain entry to the stadiums and missing part of the game.
GROUP C: Argentina v Saudi Arabia
Argentina are amongst the favourites for this tournament and its not difficult to see why with the talent of Messi, Martinez and Di Maria in their ranks. A World Cup win would be a fitting end to Messi’s international career. Yes, the La Albiceleste have in the past have suffered opening game shocks – 1990 against Cameroon springs to mind, but it would be a major surprise if this was not a routine win for the two-time World Champions.
GROUP D: Denmark v Tunisia
Whilst Christian Ericksen has been back playing for his country since his horrific collapse at the Euros, this will be the first time as such back on the World stage in a major tournament. No doubt the Dane will take it all in his stride, and he will hope to be the spark against Tunisia who are appearing at their sixth World Cup. Whilst many of the Danish squad will be familiar to fans in the UK, the Tunisian squad is one spread across the globe. One name to look out for is Hannibal Mejbri, the youngster on loan at Birmingham City from Manchester United. A difficult one to call and a draw possibly on the cards.
GROUP C: Mexico v Poland
A South America v Europe clash concludes the opening games in Group C. Mexico qualified as CONCACAF third round runners-up with Poland coming through as UEFA play-offs Path B winners. For those looking for Premier League connections in the Mexican squad, then there is Raul Jimenez at Wolves, whilst for Poland, the Aston Villa pair of Matty Cash and Jan Bednarek (on-loan from Southampton) are joined by Krystian Bielik of Derby County, currently on-loan at Championship side Birmingham City. Of course the focus will be on the prolific striker, Polish captain Robert Lewandowski, who has had a sterling start to his career at Barcelona. These two have met in the 1978 World Final Group Stages, with Poland winning 3-1 in Argentina. Would be a surprise if there was a similar result today, in a game Poland may well nick through a Lewandowski winner.
GROUP D: France v Australia
Current World Champions France take on Australia who came through winning the AFC v CONMEBOL play-off against Peru winning 5-4 on penalties. The Aussies have six players plying their trade in Scotland – Nathaniel Atkinson, Kye Rowles, Cameron Devlin (all Hearts), Aziz Behich (Dundee United), Aaron Mooy (Celtic) and Keanu Baccus (St Mirren). The teams met at the last World Cup in the Group Stages. France went ahead through Antoine Griezmann only for Mile Jedinak to level, but Les Bleus won 2-1 with Paul Pogba getting the winner. The French will hope this is a good omen and a similar win to 2018 could well be on the cards.