Pulisic sends fired-up U.S. to last 16 in simmering World Cup contest with Iran

Yanks book a berth for knockout stage with a single goal to Team Melli's none as geopolitical rivals clash in Group B closer

Christian Pulisic bundled the ball home at a cacophonous Al Thumama Stadium as the United States stormed into the World Cup last 16 on Tuesday by beating Iran 1-0 in a Group B contest shrouded by decades of enmity between the two nations.
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  • Pulisic's 38th-minute goal proved enough for the Americans to advance at the expense of their geopolitical rivals.
    2 View gallery
    כריסטיאן פוליסיק שחקן נבחרת ארה"ב מול אחמד נורולאחי שחקן נבחרת איראן
    כריסטיאן פוליסיק שחקן נבחרת ארה"ב מול אחמד נורולאחי שחקן נבחרת איראן
    U.S.'s Christian Pulisic bolts past Iran's Ahmad Nourollahi
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Sergino Dest headed the ball into the path of the sprinting Pulisic, who swept it into the net to momentarily silence the raucous Iranian supporters in front of him but he crashed into the outstretched Alireza Beiranvand in the process.
    Pulisic was back on his feet after receiving treatment for a few minutes but did not look comfortable and he was replaced by Brenden Aaronson at the break after sustaining an abdominal injury, in a major blow for the Americans' knockout stage hopes.
    The U.S. finished two points behind Group B winners England to reach the last 16 for the fifth time since 1994. Iran finished third with three points, with Wales bottom with one point.
    Gregg Berhalter's U.S. team, the second youngest at this year's finals, may lack experience on the big stage but they stepped up and delivered a commanding performance when their spot at the World Cup was on the line.
    2 View gallery
    אוהדי נבחרת ארה"ב
    אוהדי נבחרת ארה"ב
    U.S. fans celebrating
    (Photo: Oz Mualem)
    Knowing that only a win would keep them in the tournament, they pressed with high intensity from the first whistle - their fullbacks almost playing as wingers - and chances flowed for their free-flowing attack.
    Tim Weah, who spurned two glorious opportunities before Pulisic put the Americans ahead, had the ball in the net late in the first half but his strike was ruled offside.
    Iran, who only needed a point to advance, were largely restricted to playing on the counter and unable to muster a credible attempt at scoring until the second half.
    Substitute Saman Ghoddos, who replaced Sardar Azmoun at halftime, almost pulled Iran level after meeting a superb cross from Ramin Rezaeian in Team Melli's best chance of the match but they never really troubled a dominant U.S. side.
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