A day four years in the making has finally arrived. For the first time since the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. men’s national team will play in the tournament. With a young, talented team, the USMNT’s game against Gareth Bale and Wales on Monday will set the tone for a challenging, but manageable, Group B.
Elsewhere in the group, England used its young stars to dominate an overmatched Iranian side, staking its claim as the favorites in Group B. Senegal, without superstar Sadio Mané due to injury, faces the 2010 World Cup runner-up Netherlands at 11 a.m. ET.
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Senegal-Netherlands at the half: 0-0
Playing in their third World Cup selection and playing without star forward Sadio Mané, Senegal has held its own against one of the world’s powers. The match has been fairly even, with possession and play alternating between both halves of the pitch, it has been the Netherlands who have been sloppy at times on the back end with occasionally careless passes.
Winger Ismaïla Sarr has been the most threatening player for Senegal, which has fired six shots, with one on goal. The Netherlands, by comparison, have five shots, with none on target. Holland, however, has a slight edge in possession: 43% to Senegal’s 42%.
In the 40th minute, the Netherlands had its most dangerous attack, as midfielder Steven Berghuis possessed the ball at the top of the area and fired a shot with plenty of pace that zipped over the crossbar.
Gareth Bale has Wales dreaming big ahead of World Cup opener vs. USMNT
AL-RAYYAN, Qatar — He’s a teenage phenom turned worldwide superstar who’s won five UEFA Champions League titles, about a dozen other team honors and myriad individual awards. Already long since an icon in his homeland, he was one of the highest-paid players in the world for much of his time at Real Madrid. And earlier this year he moved to sunny Southern California just in time to become an MLS Cup-winning hero for LAFC in Hollywood fashion.
Yet you could almost feel sorry for Gareth Bale on Sunday as he recounted the angst he and the rest of his nation felt as their Welsh national team missed out on the sport’s biggest party over and over again for his entire lifetime — and three decades before that as well.
“I think France ‘98 was probably my first memory,” the winger told reporters one day before Wales’ Group B clash with the U.S. men’s national team, their first World Cup match since 1958. “I just remember having this pencil case with the logo on it and everything.”
Bale’s dazzling skill has been the crown jewel for his talented generation of Welsh players. And after hauling their nation – which largely favored rugby over soccer until they hit the scene – out of the footballing doldrums with a run to the Euro 2016 semifinals in their first major tournament appearance in over half a century, Qatar ‘22 represents a chance to seal their legacy.
Wales faces the U.S. Men’s National Team at 2 p.m. ET in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
— Charles Boehm, Pro Soccer Wire
The starting 11 for Senegal-Netherlands
The starting lineups are out for the second match of the day, between Senegal and the Netherlands.
The Three Lions were always favored to finish atop a group that also includes the U.S. and Wales, but the emphatic nature of their win on Monday underlined their status as the class of their World Cup group.
It was England’s young stars who shined the brightest at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, with 19-year-old Jude Bellingham opening the scoring with a header before 21-year-old Bukayo Saka scored a brace in his first World Cup game.
After reaching the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020, England entered the 2022 World Cup as one of the favorites and its performance against an overwhelmed Iranian side did nothing to dispel that notion. But the four-goal margin of victory set England on course to finish atop Group B, with goal differential as the first tiebreaker. Next up for the Three Lions is a showdown with the U.S. Men’s National Team on Friday.
— Seth Vertelney, Pro Soccer Wire
Final: England 6, Iran 2
England was dominant from start to finish in its first match of the 2022 World Cup.
Next up for England? That’d be the USMNT on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. Iran will look to bounce back against Wales in Friday’s early game, a 5 a.m. ET start.
World Cup soundtrack singer walks out on interview
One of the artists behind a theme song of the 2022 World Cup stopped a live TV interview and walked out after he was asked about the issue of Qatar’s human rights record.
During a broadcast on Israeli public television in Qatar, Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma left the set calling Israel’s KAN News chief international correspondent Moav Vardi “rude.”
In the taping, Vardi asked: “Don’t you have a problem with human rights violations in this country?”
“Yeah but it’s something I can’t resolve. I just came here to enjoy life, enjoy soccer and the party of soccer,” Maluma responded. “It’s not something that I actually have to be involved with. I’m here enjoying my music and the beautiful life, playing soccer too.”
Vardi then pushed Maluma on the matter, asking if he understands why people might have an issue with his response.
“Do I have to answer that question?” Maluma said, looking off screen.
Someone heard off set is then heard telling him no.
“You’re rude,” Maluma told the reporter, then stood up and walked off the set. — Natalie Neysa Alund
England extends lead to 5-1
England made four subs in the 70th minute after a nervy moment when defender Harry Maguire was evaluated for a concussion. Marcus Rashford came on for Saka and immediately scored a goal in the run of play. The Three Lions are dominating the game so far and have not let up their attack. In the World Cup the top two teams advance on first point total with goal differential as a tiebreaker.
Minutes after Saka scored a second goal to give England its fourth four-goal game in the World Cup (others were 2018 vs Panama, 1954 and 1966 when they won it all), Iran found the back of the net.
Iran overloaded the right side of the pitch to open up space for Mehdi Taremi to score.
Time: Monday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. ET
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock
The top two contenders in Group A face each other when Senegal and Netherlands kick off Monday. Senegal will be without the world-class talent of Sadio Mane due to injury, which is a critical blow. Hope now lies with goalkeeper Edouardo Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly. The Netherlands have a key absence of their own without veteran Georginio Wijnaldum.
Iran’s starting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand fell to the ground after a collision with his teammate. The goalkeeper was on the ground for more than 10 minutes and was eventually stretchered off the field in the 19th minute when Hosssein Hosseini was brought in as a substitute. Because it was a head injury, the substitution does not count against the five player subs for Iran.
The time stopped was tacked onto the end of the first 45 minutes as 14 minutes of stoppage time.
England made it 2-0 after defender Harry Maguire leapt over Iranian defenders to head a ball into danger. Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka, 21, stuck the ball just right, up and over Iran’s substitute goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini. Then forward Raheem Sterling took advantage of Iran and scored on a counter attack. It was his 20th goal for the England national team.
England midfielder Jude Bellingham, 19, headed in England’s first goal of the 2022 World Cup with his first goal for England and a 1-0 lead against Iran. “Hey Jude” chants spread throughout the stadium as the youngest player on England’s squad celebrated.
Time: Monday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. ET
Stadium: Al Rayyan Stadium Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock
As long as the eight years since their last run at the World Cup may have felt for fans of the U.S. men’s national team, the Welsh have been waiting an actual lifetime for this moment. Their last World Cup appearance was in 1958. Since then, their squad has amassed substantial tournament know-how in the last two European Championships.
And that’s not including the masterclass of Gareth Bale.
“I’ve said all along, you’ve probably heard me say this, that I think they’re underrated,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said of Wales at a press conference Sunday.
The political situation back home has been a regular line of questioning for Iran ahead of the team’s opening Group B match against England.
Large swathes of people in the country have risen up to protest for women’s rights following the death of Mahsa Amini while being detained for allegedly breaking rules regarding head coverings.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” Iran captain Ehsan Hajisafi said. “We are here, but it does not mean that we should not be their voice or we should not respect them.
“Whatever we are is from them. We have to fight. We have to perform the best we can and score goals and to present the bereaved people of Iran with the results. And I hope that the conditions change towards the expectations of the people.”
The protests have seen prominent former players Ali Daei and Javad Nekounam both say they have declined an invitation from FIFA to attend the World Cup.
Contributing: Associated Press
Iran goalkeeper leaves game after collision
Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand collided with his own defender. The goalkeeper stayed on the ground while the defender walked away seemingly unharmed. After extended examination Beiranvand returned to play, only to sit down and call for a substitution minutes later.
Journalists at Khalifa International Stadium report a possible issue with FIFA’s ticketing application, causing lines outside the stadium.
With many names familiar to the English Premier League fan, England takes the field led by captain Harry Kane. Iran’s captain Ehsan Hajsafi plays left back for Greek Super League club AEK Athens, and their starting striker Mehdi Taremi is a top-five scorer in Portugal for FC Porto.
On the eve of the World Cup, the USMNT got a pep talk from none other than the POTUS himself.
U.S. President Joe Biden, from his desk in the Oval Office, was connected to a phone held by USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter in a room filled with the entire team.
“I know you’re the underdog, but I tell you what man, you got some of the best players in the world on your team,” Biden said in a video posted by the team on Twitter.
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Following FIFA’s threat of yellow cards for any players wearing the “OneLove” armbands during the World Cup, the federations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have asked their captains not to wear them. The Netherlands, England and Wales open play Monday.
“We can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games,” the federations said in a joint statement Monday.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”
FIFA said Monday that all captains are now allowed to wear its “No Discrimination” armbands. The armbands for that campaign, which was not supposed to begin until the quarterfinals, are blue, with the red outline of a heart around a soccer ball and the words “Football Unites the World.”
MORE:World Cup teams ask captains not to wear ‘OneLove’ armbands after dispute with FIFA
Is it coming home?
England has a history of going into tournaments confident and leaving with its tail between its legs, though, recent success has turned the tides in its favor. The Three Lions came in fourth in the 2018 World Cup and second in the 2020 European Championship. But the men are still searching for their first major trophy since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Captain Harry Kane is two goals away from surpassing Wayne Rooney’s all-time goalscoring record. Meanwhile, Iran has a quality forward of its own in Mehdi Taremi. The striker, 30, plays in Portugal and has 13 goals in 18 games.
Time: Monday, Nov. 21 at 8 a.m. ET
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock