The second day of action in Qatar has been an absolute rollercoaster for fans with several dramatic results surprising the world.
England was banned from wearing “One Love” armbands in support of LGBTQ communities in Qatar before punishing Iran 6-2 in an onimous first-up display.
Then the Netherlands needed almost the entire match to avoid an early slip-up against Senegal.
In the final match of the day, Welsh superstar Gareth Bale very nearly pinched all three points for his country before he was controversially brought down by an American defender with the goalkeeper a mile off his line. It would have been a robbery of sorts after America dominanted most of the match.
Day 2 World Cup match results (times in AEDT)
— 12am: England 6 Iran 2
— 3am: Netherlands 2 Senegal 0
— 6am: USA 1 Wales 1
How to watch and stream the 2022 World Cup
American star’s powerful display
American captain Tyler Adams has surprised the world by wearing a “no discrimination” armband in the team’s World Cup opener against Wales on Tuesday morning.
The newly-named captain had previously given no indication he would join the rogue European teams who had threatened to ignore a FIFIA decree and wear armbands in support of the LGBTQ+ community — before they folded at the last minute.
Adams wore the same FIFIA-approved armbands worn in the previous matched by England captain Harry Kane and Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk.
It was a strong moment of leadership for the 23-year-old.
US reporter detained over T-Shirt
The Qatari crackdown on support for the LGBTQ community has extended to credentialed media.
Journalist Grant Wahl, who runs a Substack covering soccer and formerly wrote for Sports Illustrated, tweeted that he was not let into the stadium for Monday’s US-Wales 2022 World Cup match because of his shirt, which had a soccer ball surrounded by a rainbow.
Wahl tweeted that he was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.”
Later in the day, Wahl tweeted an update, saying he was “OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal.
“Am in the media centre, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays,” Wahl wrote.
The implication as to why he was detained is not subtle.
Earlier on Monday, FIFA threatened European team captains with automatic yellow cards for wearing a “OneLove” armband, as they had planned to do, leading England’s Harry Kane to back down and wear a FIFA-sanctioned armband instead.
BBC presenter Alex Scott, who has been in relationships with men and women in the past, donned the armband on the British outlet’s coverage of England’s 6-2 win over Iran.
America going nuts at half time
America has scored its first goal at the World Cup since July 1, 2014 — and football commentators in the country are going bananas.
The United States National Men’s Team looked like Real Madrid at times with some fancy connected passes and they made superstar Gareth Bale’s Wales team look incredibly average in the first half.
The goal finally came after half an hour when Christian Pulisic threaded a glorious pass in behind the defence for Timothy Weah to run onto and tap past keeper Wayne Hennessey.
Earlier, Wales went close to a disastrous own goal when a defender headed the ball back to Hennessey with some heat from just metres away. Hennessey barely had time to react as the ball struck him on the torso.
At least one sports commentator got a bit carried away with the performance.
Netherlands pull off late escape
Late goals by Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen gave the Netherlands a 2-0 victory over African champions Senegal on Monday on their return to the World Cup stage.
With Senegal missing injured star man Sadio Mane and the Dutch without their main attacking threat Memphis Depay at kick-off, the Group A encounter in Doha looked set to end in a goalless draw.
But with just six minutes remaining PSV Eindhoven forward Gakpo got up in front of Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to head in a floated Frenkie de Jong cross from the left.
Substitute Klaassen then secured the victory deep in injury time, following up to score after Mendy had saved from Depay, who had also come off the bench.
The result leaves the Netherlands level at the top of the group with Ecuador, who beat hosts Qatar 2-0 in the tournament’s opening match on Sunday.
Louis van Gaal’s side play Ecuador on Friday, while Senegal now face a must-win contest against Qatar.
Senegal saw Bayern Munich superstar Mane — who came second in this year’s Ballon d’Or — pull out of the squad with a leg injury on the eve of the tournament.
Netherlands 2 (Gakpo 84m, Klaassen 90) Senegal 0
‘Can’t believe it’: Ugly moment rocks Cup
England started its World Cup with a crushing 6-2 victory over the world’s 20th-ranked nation, Iran, scoring three goals in each half.
Political controversies hung over this game, with England electing not to wear an armband signalling support for LGBTQ rights hours before kick-off under pressure from FIFA.
Meanwhile Iran’s players remained pointedly silent during their national anthem in an apparent show of support for protesters back home.
The biggest controversy of the actual match happened before a goal was scored, when Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was flattened by a head clash with one of his own players.
Medical staff spent the better part of 10 minutes examining Beiranvand, who seemed visibly disoriented and yet wanted to remain on the field.
After a change of jersey, and despite fears that he may have been concussed, the keeper did indeed try to play on. But a minute later he signalled to the bench, indicating he needed to go off, and sunk back to the ground before being substituted.
Baffled football fans and experts couldn’t understand why the keeper was allowed to stay on in the first place.
“Cannot believe Alireza Beiranvand has been allowed to continue. That is so, so dangerous,” said The Daily Mail’s women’s football correspondent Kathryn Batte.
“There’s no way Beiranvand should be allowed to continue after that collision. Even though he’s coming off now, he should have gone straight off,” said former player David Meyler.
And former England star Jermaine Jenas was blunt: “This really is unacceptable.”
As play continued without the injured keeper, the deadlock was broken in the 35th minute. England’s Jude Bellingham aimed a precise header into the corner of Iran’s goal after a cross from the left by Luke Shaw.
Eight minutes later, the margin was doubled. From an England corner, the ball was headed down into the centre of the box and buried in the net off the left foot of young Arsenal star Bukayo Saka.
Iran’s players mobbed the referee in protest, though it wasn’t clear why, and the goal was upheld a short time afterwards.
The next one came from a goalkick, which was controlled by England around the halfway line. After some lovely build-up, Harry Kane measured a cross in to Raheem Sterling, who was practically unmarked and finished deftly.
In a sign of just how much time the injury had soaked up, there were 14 minutes of stoppage time in the first half.
It took a little longer than expected, perhaps, for England to increase its lead in the second half. A touch after the hour mark, Saka received the ball towards the right edge of the box and was given oodles of time to cut back towards the centre on his favoured left boot.
His tame shot made it past the replacement Iranian keeper as he merely stood and watched.
Then, out of pretty much nowhere, Iran nabbed a goal. After some nice build-up on the right wing, the ball trickled in to Mehdi Taremi inside the box, and he fired a shot into the net off the underside off the crossbar.
Marcus Rashford restored England’s dominance in the 71st minute, receiving the ball with plenty of space on the right side of the box, cutting inside his defender, and steering it nicely into the net.
On the cusp of stoppage time, an English break led to Callum Wilson speeding into the box down the right before pulling it back for Jack Grealish, who had an easy finish for 6-1.
And there was one last whiff of controversy deep in stoppage time as the VAR system got involved. After what appeared to be a fairly innocuous run of play, with a free kick from Iran being cleared, the referee reviewed the footage and decided defender John Stones had tugged on an Iranian shirt. He pointed to the spot, and Taremi scored his second.
But that late goal didn’t take much of the sheen off a strong opening performance from England, who snapped a six-game winless streak.
England 6 (Bellingham 35m, Saka 43m, 62m, Sterling 45, Rashford 71, Grealish 90) Iran 2 (Taremi 65, 90)