USA’s Christian Pulisic scores at Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar on November 29, 2022
Fabrizio Bensch | Reuters
Christian Pulisic scored in the 38th minute when he beat the goalkeeper first-hand, and the United States advanced to the World Cup’s knockout rounds with a 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday in a politically contested encounter a quarter-century ago. .
Pulcic was sprawled on the field and lay in goal for about three minutes while being treated by American staff. He re-entered the game but was substituted early in the second half.
Back at the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the USA opened with draws against Wales and England and needed a win to advance to the round of 16.
The Americans finished second in Group B with five points, two behind England, and will look to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002 against the Netherlands on Saturday.
“I always say it’s against the world,” Tim Weah said. “No one believed America could play good soccer.”
Iran finished third with three points. The team failed to progress in all 6 matches played in the World Cup.
Tensions surrounding the match were high due to strained relations between the United States and Iran’s Islamic government. In the 1998 tournament in France, Iran defeated the United States 2–1, eliminating the Americans.
Pregame etiquette was normal, unlike the 1998 game, when the teams posed for a group photo while the Iranians presented the Americans with white flowers.
A crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind a goal at Al Tumama Stadium, with horns and drums raucous Iranian fans were louder than the red-white-and-blue American supporters at the other end and behind the American bench.
The U.S. outscored Iran 9-0 in the first half, but didn’t break through until Pulisic came up with the big moment.
Weston McKenney lofted a pass to Sergino Test from the center circle on the edge of the 6-yard box. Test headed the ball with a bounce in front of the net as Pulcic rose up the center of the field past Ramin Rezaian and Majid Hosseiniand.
Turning his body to land the ball on his right foot, Pulisic tapped in for his 22nd international goal and his first in a World Cup game. His momentum took him to goalkeeper Alireza Beirenwand, and Pulisic had to be helped to his feet before going back inside.
“We’re very grateful that he threw his body out there,” McKenney said. “It was a heart-wrenching moment at the end, but we did it and we’re happy to still be here.”
Weah, who scored in the Americans’ 1-1 draw with Wales in the opener, doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time but was ruled offside.
Pulisic was replaced by Brendan Aaronson early in the second half.
With England ahead of Wales, Iran knew they only needed a draw to progress and finally in the 52nd minute Saman Kodos got the first shot at goalkeeper Matt Turner with a header over the crossbar. Saeid Ezatolahi fired an open shot high and wide in the 70th, and Morteza Pouraliganji scored a diving header in the third minute of 9 minutes of stoppage time. -Vickers gets a slight hand on Mehdi Taremi.
“I hope our fans and our people in Iran will forgive us. I’m sorry,” Taremi said.