Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka came in for widespread praise after England opened their 2022 World Cup campaign with an emphatic 6-2 win over Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar.
The Three Lions came into the tournament in dire form having failed to win any of their last six games. However, those struggles were quickly put to bed as they sought about imposing their game on Carlos Queiroz’s side.
And after a lengthy delay that saw the Iran goalkeeper Ailerza Beiranvand subbed due to concussion, England soon made their mark on the game.
The opener came from Bellingham, who ghosted into the box to guide an excellent header into the top corner on 35. And two quick-fire goals just before the break from Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling firing home.
Saka then added his second after the break after leading the Iranian defence a merry dance. The next goal, however, came for Iran with Mehdi Taremi firing home.
Marcus Rashford then stepped off the bench, turning inside his defender to slot in an excellent finish.
Jack Grealish then tapped in England’s sixth after a rapid break saw fellow substitute Callum Wilson tee him up, while Taremi slotted home a penalty consolation for Iran in the last action.
However, all the excitement was around England’s exciting young guns, with Bellingham scoring his first goal in England colours.
The midfielder is high on a number of clubs wanted lists and this performance will likely see that demand rise further.
Already rated in the £130m bracket, Bellingham underlined his soaring reputation.
Jude Bellingham dominates midfield for England
Jermaine Jenas, speaking on BBC 1 said during his co-commentary, believes demand for the player and his asking price is set to soar: “Things just keep getting bigger and better for Bellingham. What a stage to score your first England international goal
“He has been doing this all season in the Champions League for Dortmund. Great ball in form Luke Shaw, spot on, but what a header that is. England get the goal that they have thoroughly deserved. But what a finish from Jude Bellingham.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Rob Green added: “Jude Bellingham is everywhere, he is just patrolling the pitch. It seems where ever the ball goes he is there. He has that ability to find the ball at all times.
Danny Murphy was equally impressed, adding: “It is hard to look past Bellingham, he is mixing up his play so well. Dropping deep at times and pushing on at others. When you are watching him it is really easy to forget just how young he is.
Bukayo Saka also receives praise from pundits
Despite Bellingham’s confident display in the middle of the park, he had to share the plaudits with two-goal Saka.
After expertly tucking away his second, BBC 1 commentator Guy Mowbray said: The confidence is brimming, and why shouldn’t it. That is a lovely finish from Saka.
Jenas was equally as impressed, saying: “He shifts it left, he shifts it right – he makes that space and slots it like he is in training. It’s deflected a little bit but he’s a player right at the top of his game.
“Bukayo Saka is absolutely flying.
“It’s a brilliant finish, it really is. Just that quality, he shifted it back, brought it back, a little body swerve. All of those things get you the opportunity to get the shot off in such a tight space.”
Jenas added: “Every time Saka gets the ball, he is facing his man up and trying to go past them. Its a horrible prospect for any defender to have to deal with.”
Rashford also came in for praise too after stepping off the bench to score within seconds.
And Jenas believes he can contribute plenty for England in the World Cup.
“He’s right on the money. I said Rashford had a lot to live up to because Saka has been electric. He just chopped inside and finished it.
“That would have felt good for Marcus Rashford. There were question marks about whether he would even be in the squad. It’s good to involve other players and get confidence into the squad, not just the starting eleven.
“He’s had a really good start to the season for Manchester United that warrants his England place. It’s lovely to see a smile on his face.”