England’s World Cup opener against Iran featured a staggering 27 minutes of added time in both halves, making the game a total of 117 minutes.
England took a three-goal lead thanks to young starlets Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka in a commanding first half before Raheem Sterling added a third.
However, the referee added 14 minutes of stoppage time after Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand spent an extended period on the ground, while there was also an early VAR delay.
England thought they had an early penalty when Harry Maguire appeared to be dragged to the ground by Iranian defender Roozbeh Cheshmi, but nothing was given despite a VAR check.
Iran goalkeeper Beiranvand then got into a violent clash with defender Majid Hosseini after the latter tipped away a dangerous cross from Harry Kane after nine minutes.
He went head to head with Hosseini, resulting in a bloody nose for the stopper.
Beiranvand underwent several minutes of serious treatment, lasting eight in all, before attempting to continue playing, much to the chagrin of BBC co-commentator Jermaine Jenas, who criticized Iran’s “joke” medical decision for allowing his No.1 to keep going.
He tried to keep playing before going down just 30 seconds later and then being taken off the stretcher and replaced by Hossein Hosseini with a concussion.
Jenas had said: “It’s not okay, it’s the responsibility of the medical team to make the right decision and get him released. He shouldn’t even be on the pitch now.
“I think it’s a joke, I really do. It’s really unacceptable, we’ve said our part, but it really is.
‘It doesn’t matter that he signaled Carlos Quieroz. And it’s not a nice message for the goalkeeper when he comes in like that with his hands on his head.
“His last commitment was to spar his team a goal so it was a big commitment – you can see why Carlos would be disappointed but it was the right choice. And it was the right call ten minutes ago.’
To make matters even more bizarre, 13 minutes of added time were played at the end of the second half – bringing the game’s total added time to 27 minutes.
That came after five goals in the second half and Maguire spent time undergoing treatment before leaving with a suspected concussion.
The total of 27 minutes of added time comes after players were warned to be prepared for more added time at the end of each half of the World Cup, including time to make up for long goal celebrations.
“The celebrations can last a minute or a minute and a half,” said Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee. “It’s easy to lose three, four or five minutes and that has to be compensated for in the end.”
FIFA wants to tackle time wasting and also promises to add accurate time to game stoppages for VAR interventions, injury treatment, substitutions, penalties and red cards. It will cause games to run longer than 100 minutes on a regular basis.
We want to avoid games that last 40 to 45 minutes of active play,” Collina said. ‘This is unacceptable.’
England went 3-0 up after a dominant and impressive half-time before the game ended 6-2 thanks to more goals from Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish, while Mehdi Taremi scored a brace for Iran.