Doha, Qatar — Christian Pulisic scored when he crashed headfirst into the keeper in the 38th minute and the United States reached the knockout rounds of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday in a politically charged repeat of theirs famous meeting a quarter of a century ago.
Stretched out on the field, Pulisic lay in goal for about three minutes as he was treated by US staff. He returned to the game but was substituted early in the second half. The US Football Association later announced that Pulisic was taken to the hospital with an abdominal injury.
Back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the USA opened with draws against Wales and England and needed a win to progress to the last 16.
The Americans finished second in Group B on five points, two behind England, and play the Netherlands on Saturday with a chance of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 2002.
“I always say us against the world,” said striker Tim Weah. “No one believed America could play good football.”
Iran finished third with three points. The team has not progressed in all six World Cup appearances.
There have been heightened tensions surrounding the game due to strained relations between the United States and the Islamic government of Iran. Iran defeated the United States 2-1 in the 1998 tournament in France, eliminating the Americans.
Pre-game protocols were normal, unlike the 1998 game when the Iranians presented white flowers to the Americans and the teams posed for a photo together.
Loud Iranian fans with horns and drums in the crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind a goal at Al Thumama Stadium, far louder than the US red-white-blue supporters at the far end and behind the American bench.
The USA beat Iran 9-0 in the first half but were unable to prevail until Pulisic had the big moment that a growing and increasingly discerning fan base at home had been looking forward to.
Weston McKennie lofted a pass from just inside the center circle to Sergiño Dest on the edge of the 6-yard box. Dest headed the ball in front of the net as Pulisic charged past Ramin Rezaeian and Majid Hosseiniand into the middle of the field.
Pulisic twisted his body to let the ball hit his right foot and tapped the ball for his 22nd international goal and his first in the World Cup game. His momentum carried him to goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and Pulisic had to be helped to his feet before he could get back in.
“Obviously we’re very grateful that he threw his body there,” McKennie said. “It was a heartbreaking moment at the end, but we made it through and we’re happy to still be here.”
Weah, who scored the Americans’ goal in their opening 1-1 draw with Wales, nearly doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half injury time but was ruled offside.
Brenden Aaronson replaced Pulisic early in the second half.
With England ahead of Wales, Iran knew they only needed a draw to progress and finally got their first shot at goalkeeper Matt Turner when Saman Ghoddos headed over the bar in the 52nd minute. Saeid Ezatolahi hit an open shot high and wide in the 70th and Morteza Pouraliganji’s header in the third minute of nine minutes of added time went just wide and Walker Zimmerman cleared a loose ball in front of the open net in the ninth minute after Cameron Carter – Vickers scored Easy to get your hands on Mehdi Taremi.
“I hope that our fans and our people in Iran will forgive us. I’m just sorry,” Taremi said.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, a son of former NBA player Howard Carter, made his Worlds debut in Zimmerman’s stead, giving the US a fully Europe-based lineup at a Worlds game for the first time ever.
YOUNG AT HEART
The US lineup averaged 24 years and 321 days, the youngest of any team at the tournament and the youngest at the World Cup for the Americans since 1990. Yunus Musah lived to be 20, the first American to play with him in a World Cup -Game occurred birthday.
USA are 4-1 with Netherlands, all friendlies, overcoming a two-goal deficit to win 4-3 in Amsterdam in 2015.
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https://abc7.com/usa-vs-iran-world-cup-games-today-christian-pulisic/12507441/ USA vs. Iran World Cup: Christian Pulisic scores and then is eliminated in the knockout stages