Now the World Cup is well underway in Qatar, it’s time to let the football do the talking — and aside from a few too many goalless draws — the tournament certainly hasn’t disappointed. Most importantly, there’s been shocks and high-scoring games to keep fans entertained — and we’re going to take a look at the few of the latter from the group stages now.
England 6-2 Iran
After a rather dull affair between Qatar and Ecuador opened proceedings as the South American ran out 2-0 winners over the hosts, the second game between England and Iran was much livelier — with an eight-goal affair at the Khalifa International Stadium.
It wasn’t rock and roll football from the start, however, as both teams started quite flat while a facial injury to Iran’s keeper resulted in a large stoppage. But when promising youngster Jude Bellingham opened the scoring with a glancing header the game opened up a bit — with Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling making it 3-0 by the break.
Saka scored his second around 15 minutes into the second half, before Mehdi Taremi grabbed one back for Iran. Substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish made sure the game was well out of reach, but Taremi added a second for Iran from the penalty spot in 90+13.
France 4-1 Australia
With Saudi Arabia stunning Argentina and Tunisia holding Denmark to a draw earlier in the day, it was Australia’s turn to step up and cause an upset of their own in the World Cup odds — and they got off to the perfect start as Craig Goodwin smashed the Socceroos in front inside the opening 10 minutes.
But the consensus was that even this injury-stricken version of the defending world champions would be too much for the 38th ranked side in the world. And that proved to be the case as Les Bleus found themselves 2-1 up around 20 minutes later, Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud sparing their nation’s blushes.
The chances starting flowing for France, and they should have been further ahead by half-time. But the game was eventually wrapped up in the 66th minute as Kylian Mbappe headed home Ousmane Dembele’s cross. To make sure Australia were down and out, the Paris Saint-Germain forward set up Giroud for France’s fourth and Giroud’s second about four minutes later.
Spain 7-0 Costa Rica
Fifth favourites pre-tournament, the rampant Roja made a statement of intent to win their second World Cup title after a very dominant display over Costa Rica. Having already witnessed Saudi’s win over Argentina and Japan stunning Germany, Spain knew what they had to do to avoid an upset against the Central Americans — and delivered.
It was a display reminiscent of Manchester City, as Luis Enrique’s men controlled the match from start to finish and took their chances. Dani Olmo’s nice control, turn and finish had Spain 1-0 up after 11 minutes, before Marco Asensio’s header and Ferran Torres’ penalty fired La Roja three goals ahead at the break.
Spain were even more ruthless in the second 45, as Torres added a second less than 10 minutes in. Gavi then made it five with a beautiful finish from the edge of the area, before Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata added to the rout late on.
Portugal 3-2 Ghana
After a goalless first half, Portugal vs Ghana sprung to life in the final 25 minutes of the match. Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot to become the first man to score at five World Cups, but Andre Ayew levelled the scores in the 73rd minute.
The African nation were on equal terms for just five minutes, however, as Joao Felix latched on to a through ball and converted coolly. Promising youngster Rafael Leao seemed to wrap things up less than 120 seconds later as he scored his first Portugal goal, but Osman Bukari scored in the 89th minute to make for a nervy ending. The Selecao held on for an important three points though.
Cameroon’s come back to draw 3-3 with Serbia after going 3-1 down and Ghana fending off South Korea with a 3-2 win after almost blowing a 2-0 lead is also worth noting.