The reviews gave us “fire in the belly” – Rice
|Host Nation: Qatar Dates: November 20-December 18 Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day by day TV listings – Full coverage details|
Criticism of England’s form ahead of the World Cup gave the players “fire in the belly” in their emphatic opening win over Iran, says midfielder Declan Rice.
Gareth Southgate’s side traveled to Qatar on the back of a six-match winless run and relegation from the Nations League.
But they walked to aa Victory 6-2 in his opening of the World Cup on Monday.
“There were doubts about us before the tournament. We wanted to prove a lot of people wrong,” Rice said.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the fact that we haven’t won in our last six games. By our standards, with the players we have, we know it hasn’t been good enough.
“But this was a World Cup stage and you could tell there was a fire in our belly.
“People will say, ‘It’s just Iran’, but they’ve had good results in past World Cups. They beat Uruguay in September and drew with Senegal.
“It was a very positive performance but we can’t get too far ahead. Next up is the USA and they will be at another level.
“First game, first win. We can’t ask for more.”
England face the United States on Friday at 19:00 GMT in their next Group B match at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
Jude Bellingham, 19, scored the opener against Iran and produced an excellent performance in midfield.
“We’ve played together four or five times now,” said Rice, who was also competing in the World Cup for the first time.
“I told him in the tunnel, ‘This is your stage, go and prosper. I’ll be there behind you to sweep and give you the ball to go do your thing.”
“I know my role in this team. I’m there to get in front of the back four, protect, get the ball and move it.
“I think we did very well. We stuck to the game plan and at the end the spaces opened up. You saw the goals we scored with a very nice play.
“I knew I was going to play my first World Cup. You don’t get that feeling very often. You play in the Premier League every week, but this is the world stage.”
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