JUST when Harry Maguire thought his season could not get any more frustrating.
The England defender, after an absolutely wretched season with Manchester United, looked back to his old self at the Khalifa International Stadium today.
Harry Maguire looked back to his best against Iran[/caption]
The defender was forced off mid-way through the second half[/caption]
Maguire was treated on the pitch for a suspected concussion[/caption]
Jude Bellingham put England in front with his first England goal[/caption]
His defending was composed, his passing through the lines was outstanding and in the final third of the pitch – in what was a terrific England performance – he was causing absolute chaos.
Soon after, a bewildered-looking and totally pi**ed off Maguire was trudging off the pitch.
His afternoon was done and England brought on Eric Dier as the replacement. For poor old Harry, you really could not make it up.
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This one blip, though, should take nothing anyway from an utterly brilliant England performance.
Officially, Maguire did not go off with a concussion meaning he could play against the United States on Friday.
After delivering his worst ever England performance in the 3-3 draw with Germany in September, Maguire was delivering one of his finest.
Ahead of the game, there were huge cheers, with only stifled jeers when Maguire’s name was announced.
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Many supporters back home, though, will have felt slightly different, believing Gareth Southgate’s loyalty had gone too far.
Maguire, who has only started three Premier League games this season for United, barely put a foot wrong here at the Khalifa International Stadium until signalling he could not continue.
The centre-back had strong calls for a penalty after being wrestled to the ground by Rouzbeh Chesmi, with the pair having a running battle. But after a VAR check, no spot-kick was given despite Maguire’s protests.
Maguire then had the first chance of the game but was unable to get a clean connection to Harry Kane’s cross.
During the lengthy stoppage time for the Iranian keeper, England’s fans behind the goal, about 4000 of them, delivered a rendition of the Harry Maguire song, something the central defender will have loved.
Maguire then rattled the Iranian crossbar with a powerful header from Kieran Trippier’s corner.
And Maguire then started the brilliant move with a clever pass from the back that led to Luke Shaw crossing for Jude Bellingham to light up the game with an outstanding header.
Marcus Rashford scored moments after coming on[/caption]
Maguire was one of the first to congratulate the 19-year-old and then played a part in the second goal.
Because of the tussles he was having at set-pieces, Maguire dropped back to the edge of the area. It was an obvious ploy and he was picked out by Luke Shaw from another corner to tee the ball up for Bukayo Saka to produce a stunning finish for the second.
Raheem Sterling, playing on the left of a front three, had not seen the ball as much as Saka, but he made his presence felt by sticking out a foot to dispatch Kane’s cross into the net.
Maybe with his confidence back, Maguire was spraying the ball around the pitch and on one occasion in the second half, tore forward in a counter-attack.
The highlight of the game, in terms of individual skill, was certainly Saka’s goal for 4-0.
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Tarebi pulled one back as he drifted around the back of Maguire to score. And to make matters worse, Maguire had clearly taken a knock to the head before the goal and went off with that injury.
Yet the goals kept flowing with Marcus Rashford scoring with his first touches since missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final while Jack Grealish put the seal on an incredible England performance before Iran pulled another back with a ridiculously-awarded penalty.