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Bukayo Saka stole the show in Qatar for England with two stunning goals for the Three Lions in an opening match 6-2 victory.
The winger added the second goal on the day with a stunning strike before grabbing another after the break. The England footballer of the year for 2022 continued his fine form for Arsenal with a standout display for his country and the decision to play him at right-wing over Phil Foden was rewarded by Gareth Southgate.
Saka has been playing the best football of his life heading into the game. He already has four goals and six assists in the league, including five contributions in his last six games before the domestic break.
It was his introduction against Germany in the Nations League in September that sprung a second half fightback for Southgate’s men and he carried the same form into the World Cup too.
With interchanging play all afternoon between Saka, Kieran Trippier, Mason Mount and Jude Bellingham, England looked set to equal their all-time biggest tournament win before a late penalty slightly took the gloss off of proceedings.
That didn’t stop the 21-year-old star from winning man of the match in Doha though, and former Chelsea full-back Glenn Johnson thinks Saka can make a point to the world’s elite players with a good tournament.
“Saka is up there, but you can’t say you’re one of the world’s best if you haven’t done it in and around the biggest and best tournaments,” he said to GentingCasino.
This is now Saka’s second major tournament having also gone to the Euro 2020 last summer where he played four matches and started three. Heading into group stage games against USA and Wales, he looks set for a much bigger impact in Qatar.
“Of course, he’s a fantastic player and showed against Iran what he can do, but let’s not get carried away because it’s the easiest game in the tournament,” Johnson added.
“If Saka keeps performing the way he is and does this throughout the whole tournament, it definitely puts him in that category. Saka reminds me of Arjen Robben, seriously left footed but that’s not a bad thing because his left is that good. Saka is his own player too, he works hard, he’s quick and a serious goal threat, I like him a lot.”
High praise indeed for the winger, but his two strikes did have a touch of Robben about them. The strike was inch-perfect whilst moving backwards and the way in which Saka decisively cut inside onto his left-foot and dribbled across the face of the Iran box did echo Robben’s lethal edge.
Former Chelsea and Bayern Munich attacker Robben played in a World Cup final with the Netherlands and semi-final across his career, scoring 37 times for his country including six at major tournaments. Despite his trademark ability to cut inside and score wonderful goals, Robben was extremely tough to stop and elevated himself to being one of the top forwards in the game.
Saka isn’t yet on the level of Robben, who scored 144 goals for Bayern with 101 assists too, but his style is relatively comparable, and making a true name for himself at the World Cup could be the way to prove to others just how good he is. Saka has already passed Robben’s totals for goals and assists in th…