World Cup 2022: Iran win a ‘great marker’ but England ‘must be better’ – Gareth Southgate

World Cup 2022: Iran win a ‘great marker’ but England ‘must be better’ – Gareth Southgate

2 min

World Cup 2022: Iran win a ‘great marker’ but England ‘must be better’ – Gareth Southgate

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Gareth Southgate said England “put down a great marker” by thrashing Iran 6-2 in their World Cup opener but “must be better” in their final two group games.

Bukayo Saka scored twice as the Three Lions impressed in attack, but Mehdi Taremi’s two goals for Iran highlighted a need for defensive improvement.

England face USA in their second Group B game on Friday (19:00 GMT).

“It’s a great start but we’re going to have to be better,” England manager Southgate told BBC Sport.

“To win by that margin – to play as we did for the majority of the game – we’ve got to be really happy. That’s a great marker to put down.

“But we shouldn’t be conceding two goals at that stage of the match and we’ll have to be right on our game against the States.

“We had, I think, 24 minutes of added time across the game, so it’s a long time to focus – but we just lost concentration and when we play at a slower tempo, we’re nowhere near as effective.

“I’m a miserable so-and-so and I should be more excited, but I’ve got to keep the team on the right track and we will have to be better.”

Southgate sending a message – Shearer

Former England captain and BBC pundit Alan Shearer said he understood Southgate’s comments, despite such an emphatic victory.

“It will send a message to his players,” said Shearer. “He’s obviously delighted with the way things have gone today, but he’s got to look at it from that point of view too.

“A lot of people have talked about the side defensively, and it will annoy him the way they’ve conceded the goals they did.

“There was a little bit of complacency – John Stones got done once when Jordan Pickford made a really good save and, of course, the goal they scored, they got in behind Harry Maguire.”

However, England’s clinical finishing – scoring six times from seven shots on target – meant Iran’s goals were mere consolations for the Group B underdogs, who next face Wales on Friday (10:00 GMT).

“We’ve got some good players and today they really delivered – our attacking players looked a threat throughout the game,” Southgate added.

“I thought our defence in the first hour or so really controlled the game, really controlled possession and were patient with their build-up.

“The midfield were excellent – both Declan [Rice] and Jude [Bellingham] – and our forwards looked a threat.”

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