The United States of America reached the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Iran. The Stars and Stripes have progressed from the groups in each of their last three appearances at the finals, and will now meet the Netherlands for a place in the quarter-finals – a feat they’ve not managed since 2002, Abbeylivenetwork.com reports.
The stakes could hardly have been higher at the Al Thumama Stadium, with the winner guaranteed to seal their place in the last 16. Iran started positively, but Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi failed to make use of openings to exploit the defence to the same degree as in their victory over Wales.
Gregg Berhalter’s men gained a foothold in the contest and were soon completely dominant. Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah both produced tame headers that were comfortably saved, before Weah blazed over after Josh Sargent’s pull-back. Eventually though, the USA took a deserved lead before the break, as a quick switch of play opened up the Iranian rearguard. Weston McKennie picked out Sergiño Dest in space on the right, allowing the AC Milan full-back to square for Pulisic to slam home the opener from close range.
Remarkably, that was just the third goal the Stars and Stripes have scored in their last six outings, but they had the ball in the net again before half time, only for Weah’s audacious finish to be chalked off for the tightest of offsides. Despite the lead at the interval, issues were starting to mount for the USA, with Pulisic withdrawn at the break after being clattered in the process of scoring his goal. McKennie was also substituted around the hour mark, just moments after Saman Ghoddos spurned a huge chance to grab the equaliser, flashing wide from close range.
Carlos Queiroz’s men threw everything they had at the USA, but found a staunch defense standing in their way and were unable to find a priceless equaliser. As a result, Iran exit the World Cup at the group stage for the sixth time, still waiting for their first-ever appearance in the knockout stages. A stern test awaits the USA in the knockouts in the form of the Netherlands, but Berhalter’s men will be full of confidence, as they’re still yet to concede a goal from open play in the tournament.