The 2022 World Cup in Qatar enjoyed its first full day of fixtures this tournament and thousands were left with intriguing storylines to ponder that have already begun to shape the group stage picture, none more so than England’s statement thrashing of Iran.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions have thus far put on an early performance that has laid down a marker for the rest of the tournament field after hitting Carlos Quieroz’s men for six goals on the back of unexpected tactical changes from the England manager, with a cadre of national team stars benefitting along the way.
A brace from Arsenal star Bukayo Saka and strikes by Borussia Dortmund wunderkind Jude Bellingham and Manchester City big-money signing Jack Grealish constituted four of the nation’s six goals, but more importantly on an individual level, all three players found the back of the net in their World Cup debuts.
The England triumvirate were not the only stars on display to enjoy a similar storyboard first day in the trenches in the tiny Arab nation, with Netherland’s and PSV Eindhoven Cody Gakpo, US international Timothy Weah, and Wales veteran icon Gareth Bale all scoring in similar fashion in what was their first-ever appearance on football’s biggest stage.
Gakpo’s late second-half opener set Louis van Gaal’s Oranje off and running in a late display to hit Senegal with a pair of sucker punches before securing a 2-0 win over a Lions of Teranga outfit that sorely missed the presence of Sadio Mané.
Weah and Bale each bagged goals in a hard-fought 1-1 draw as the US and Wales vied for control of second spot behind England before both coming up short on the night and now must look up the table ahead of them as both nations have yet to play one of the tournament heavyweights.
The son of Liberian great and former Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, Timothy justified his selection in Gregg Berhalter’s XI with a well-taken finish in the first half before Bale stepped up from the penalty spot late in the second forty-five to thunder home his spot kick past a sprawling Matt Turner.
With action due to come thick and fast tomorrow with four clashes in the vein of Argentina vs Saudi Arabia, Denmark vs Tunisia, Mexico vs Poland, and France vs Australia, more debutant goals could once again be on the cards.