Iran vs USA: USMNT advances to World Cup knockout stage with hard-fought victory



CNN

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) worked hard to advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Iran in their Qatar 2022 Group B match.

Christian Pulisic’s first-half goal separated the sides as the USMNT advanced to the last 16 for the first time since 2014.

The pressure was certainly on Gregg Berhalter’s side in Qatar after the national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but Team USA got the job done with three hard-fought performances.

It wasn’t pretty at times, especially towards the end against Iran, but progressing through the group stage was the least expected of this exciting young team.

Pulisic will have some concerns heading into the knockout stages after suffering an abdominal injury while scoring the winner.

The USMNT will hope to qualify for Saturday’s last-16 tie against the Netherlands after news that their star man, dubbed ‘Captain America’ by some, Pulisic, has been taken to hospital for tests.

Weston McKenney and Tyler Adams celebrate the first goal.

It was only the third meeting between the two countries in World Cup history since France in 1998, a politically charged game that saw Iran’s shock 2-1 win.

It was the first time Iran and the United States, sometimes officially known as “The Great Satan” in Iran, had met on a soccer field and was the biggest sporting event since the 1979 revolution.

The build-up to this match in Qatar has been equally tense, with the US Soccer Association demanding that Iran be pulled from the World Cup after the US Soccer Association posted an Iranian flag without the Islamic republic’s emblem on its social media platform. Expressed support for the protesters in Iran.

USMNT manager Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams denied accusations of hypocrisy and disrespect and faced tough questions from Iranian journalists at a press conference.

The hype surrounding the game added to the character of a battle that was guaranteed to be tense, even at a distance from the off-field issues.

Both teams knew they would advance to the Round of 16 if they won, but for the USMNT, even a draw would not be enough to advance out of the group.

The USMNT fought hard to reach the last 16.

There were no early signs of nerves from the USMNT as Berhalter’s side dictated the game in the opening stages – despite 65% possession, it wasn’t until the 28th minute that the game’s first chance came.

Josh Sargeant’s long-range effort took a deflection off an Iran defender and fell squarely into the path of Timothy Weah, but he may not have known he was alone in front of goal, and Alireza Beiranwan volleyed home an accurate effort in the Iran goal. easy.

On the stroke of half-time, Weah again had a great position inside the box, but slid well over the bar after being set up by Sargeant.

The pressure from the USMNT then told with seven minutes to go and the team took the lead after a flurry of moves.

Weston McKenney’s cross was met by bandit Serginho Dest across the face of the goal, and Pulisic bravely headed home before curling the ball over the line, colliding with Beiranvand.

The USMNT’s jubilation immediately turned to concern as Pulisic was in a lot of pain after the collision and was visibly limping when two doctors took him off the field.

Pulisic was back on the field soon after, but the Chelsea player was clearly still struggling with the shot.

Christian Pulisic is surrounded by teammates after suffering an injury after scoring.

Space began to open up in Iran’s defense as the USMNT grew in confidence, and Weah doubled his team’s lead just before the break with a superb finish on the outside of the boot to earn the coach’s flag in the nick of time. offside decisions.

Although Iran would have been happy to ride out the first-half storm, it was a brilliant performance from a team that had troubled England and Wales’ defenses in their opening two games, particularly after Pulisic’s goal.

Iran started the second half with more authority, creating two great chances for Saman Goddos, but the Brentford forward didn’t trouble USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Iran had a great chance to equalize with the hour mark, but Morteza Pouraliganj’s curling goal narrowly missed the far post, much to the relief of the American fans in the stands.

Iran’s players were loudly calling for a penalty at the end of nine minutes of added time, when Mehdi Taremi was on the end of a cross when Cameron Carter-Vickers claimed to have pulled Porto forward.

USA players cheer as the final whistle blows.

After a short and tense review, VAR ruled it was not a penalty, and referee Mateu Lahoz blew his whistle to end the game soon after.

Both teams sank on the floor – for very different reasons – and the USMNT will know they need to improve their performance if they want to advance in Qatar.

An emotional Saeed Ezatolahi apologized to the Iranian fans after the defeat.

After a crucial 2-0 win over Wales, Iran were in a strong position going into the finals, needing only a draw to progress, but a disappointing performance in the knockout stages.

The midfielder said, “I am really sorry on behalf of the players of our team that we did not get the chance to qualify for the next round.

“Life and football go on and this will be a good lesson for us, at least for young players like me, in the future. So I hope our fans and our people in Iran will forgive us, that’s all I’m sorry for.”

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz says the dream is over, but he is already looking to the future.

“The first half is the United States and the second half is Iran,” said Iran coach Kieroz, who coached Iran from 2011 to 2019 and returned for a second stint in September.

“Difference [was] We didn’t score as well as we should have in the second half. However, the dream is over. Now I’m thinking about Iran’s next step,” added Kieroz, the only coach to lead his team to back-to-back World Cups.

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