Gareth Southgate vows to keep England players ‘on the right track’ after phenomenal opening World Cup win

Gareth Southgate of England

England boss Gareth Southgate will try to prevent his players from getting ahead of themselves after the fantastic 6-2 thrashing of Iran in their World Cup opener.

England blew Iran away thanks to goals from Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka (2), Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish. Iran did score through Mehdi Taremi in the 65th minute, while they also netted a spot-kick late on after a controversial penalty decision.

But England simply had too much quality for their opponents and came away with a comfortable victory to set up their World Cup campaign in great style.

During a post-match interview with BBC One, Southgate tried not to laud his players too much so he could keep them ‘on the right track’. However, he definitely wasn’t happy with the penalty decision in stoppage time.

“I’m a bit fed up with the end of it really,” Southgate admitted. “To win by that margin, to play as we did for the majority of the game, I’ve got to be really happy.

“But we shouldn’t be conceding two goals at that stage and we’ll have to be right on our game against the (United) States. It’s a great start but we’re going to have to be better.

“It’s a consequence of the scoreline a bit, we had 24 minutes of added time which is a long time to focus but we just lost concentration and when we play at a slower tempo we’re not anywhere near as effective.

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

‘A really special day’, says England man

In a post-match interview on BBC One (via BBC Sport), goalscorer Saka said: “I can’t describe the feeling, it is amazing. I am so happy and so proud. We got the win as well so it is a really special day.

“We needed that good start. We haven’t played the best coming into the tournament. There was a lot of talk and speculation about our form but we showed everyone how much quality we have and what we can do.

“It is amazing to get the win under so much pressure. But we have to be consistent because we have the next game coming up in a few days and we have to win again.

“I feel in a good place. I feel the support and love from the fans, the coaching staff and my team-mates. That is all I need. I feel ready to give 100% and I will continue to do that every time I put the shirt on.”

Meanwhile, Monday’s Euro Paper Talk claims Antonio Conte and Fabio Paratici are in agreement over Tottenham’s first January signing.