Saka scored his second with a solo finish, but Mehdi Taremi pulled one back for Iran with a sharp finish that beat Jordan Pickford from close range.
Marcus Rashford and then Jack Grealish came off the bench to add to the scoreline, as the Three Lions opened their World Cup campaign in style - even as Taremi added a second for Iran with a late penalty. Here are how Gareth Southgate’s players rated in the Group B opener.
Jordan Pickford - 7
England’s No 1 had virtually nothing to do in the first half, but he saw more action after the break. There was a rather awkward moment on the ball that went unpunished, before he was taken by surprise by Taremi’s close-range shot that flew over his head and crashed in off the underside of the bar. Made a stunning save to prevent a one-on-one in stoppage time, which very much salvaged his rating here.
Kieran Trippier - 7
England’s right-back spot is his to lose. Offered a valuable outlet on the wing, allowing Bukayo Saka to tuck inside and threaten with his movement, while Trippier also came narrow alongside John Stones to help England’s shape. His passing from deep and delivery from out wide was generally good, but one ball almost played England into trouble.
John Stones - 7
Typically composed and measured in possession - which was important here as England had up to 80 per cent of it in the first half. Showed his ability to step forward and play passes through the lines - an ability that will grow in importance throughout the tournament. Gave away Iran’s late penalty after pulling a shirt in the box - but he was unlucky as a more egregious of pulling in the box went unpunished at the other end in the first half.
Harry Maguire - 7
An important opening display from England’s much-maligned centre back. He caused absolute havoc at England set-pieces, very much reprising his role from 2018, and he hit the bar before setting up Saka’s wonderful volley from a well-worked routine. Visibly grew in confidence in possession as England opened a comfortable lead, but he was rather caught out by Taremi’s run off his shoulder for the Iran goal. That said, he was brought off with an apprarant concussion afterwards.
Luke Shaw - 8
Set up Bellingham’s header with an excellent clipped cross from the left, a position he took up often high and wide on the wing in what was a clear tactical instruction from Southgate. Shaw was almost caught upfield when Trippier lost possession with a crossfield pass - Alireza Jahanbakhsh fired over but it came as a warning.
Declan Rice - 7
Sharp. Neat. Tidy. Commanding. The roles in the England midifeld are clearly set: Rice sits and Bellingham bombs on, but that the 19-year-old was able to do that to such devastating effect while England were able to maintain possession and control when attacks broke down showed how well Rice took to his task.
Jude Bellingham - 9
A sensation. By far his best performance in an England shirt, and what a stage to do it on. He was always on the move, always looking to receive a pass or burst forward into space. A late run into the box led to his stunning opening header - Bellingham’s first for England - while he played a key part in England’s third and sixth goals with drives forward.
Mason Mount - 8
He may not get some of the headlines - but this was a performance to show why Mount has a firm place in Southgate’s best team. His tactical versatility here was on display as he occupied the inside left channel, allowing Shaw space on the outside. In the middle of the packed central zone, Mount made was accurate with his touches, flicks and dribbles.
Bukayo Saka - 9
You won’t find a more popular scorer and Saka’s first was a thing of beauty -while the second wasn’t bad either. Saka’s inclusion over Phil Foden was the big selection made by Southgate but his versatility in coming inside, mirroring Mount, while also balancing the shape by staying wide opposite Shaw helped England’s control. Lovely touch, movement and balance in making runs on the turn - qualities all exemplified by his solo second.
Raheem Sterling - 8
Produced an emphatic response to anyone questioning his place in England’s team because of his club form for Chelsea. Sterling’s goal, a well-taken finish with the outside of his boot, will do his confidence the world of good while his all-round play was lively, sharp and dangerous throughout. Playing off Kane makes a huge difference.
Harry Kane - 8
The goal may not have come but as an all-round centre-forward’s display this was textbook from England’s captain. Kane held the ball up well while his vision and passing allowed him to create chances and bring his forwards into play. His no-look cross to set up Sterling’s goal was a thing of beauty and showed the understanding between England’s front-men. A flick to Sterling also displayed that wavelength .
Gareth Southgate - 9
Got every big call correct with his starting line-up, and then his changes made an impact from the bench. A perfect start to the campaign.
Marcus Rashford, 8: Made a superb impact to score England’s fifth, with a composed touch inside and finish to score his first goal at a major tournament.
Jack Grealish - 8: Looked to drive inside when on the ball and was in the right place at the right time to score England’s sixth, thanks to Callum Wilson’s cut-back.
Phil Foden - 7: A smart flick to Rashford was the highlight of his 20-minute cameo, but probably would have wanted to offer more after being unfortunate to miss out on a starting spot.
Callum Wilson - 8: Showed why he’s been picked as England’s second striker with his runs in behind, and kept calm to set up Grealish’s sixth.
Eric Dier - 6: Kept it steady in defence after replacing Maguire as England saw the game out.