USA reach World Cup knockout stage with win over Iran

Doha, Nov 29 (EFE).- Christian Pulisic’s goal in the 38th minute proved to be all the United States would need to beat Iran 1-0 here Tuesday and advance to the round of 16 at World Cup 2022.

The USA finished the opening round with 5 points, taking second place in Group B behind England, and will begin preparing for a clash Saturday with the Netherlands, who won Group A.

The Americans also reached the knockout phase in 2010 and 2014 (they didn’t qualify for the tournament in 2018), while Iran have never made it out of the group stage in six World Cup appearances.

Iranians were well represented in the crowd of 42,000-plus in the stands at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium to watch the first official match between the US and Iran since World Cup 1998.

On that occasion, 42nd-ranked Iran prevailed 2-1 to eliminate the 11th-ranked US side from the tournament in the group stage.

The US came into Tuesday’s showdown with 2 points from draws against England and Wales. Iran, after being thrashed 6-2 by the Three Lions in the opener, rebounded to beat the Dragons and claim second place in the group.

Needing only a draw, the Iranians ceded possession and the initiative to the US, who outshot their opponents 12-4 and won five corners to Iran’s one.

Timothy Weah – son of 1995 Ballon d’Or and incumbent Liberian President George Weah – had a great chance in the 28th minute, but his header was easily handled by Iranian keeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Ten minutes later, Wes McKennie got the ball to Sergiño Dest, who headed it into the path of the onrushing Pulisic. The Chelsea man’s momentum took him into the net and he ended up missing the second half due to an injury suffered in a collision with Beiranvand.

Weah looked to have made it 2-0 deep into first-half stoppage time, but the offside flag went up.

Josh Sargent tested Beiranvand early in the second half before the Iranians, led by Remin Rezaeian, began to go forward in search of an equalizer.

The closest they would come, however, was an effort by Saman Ghoddos that went over the cross-bar in the 52nd minute.

EFE arh/dr

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