Iran 0-1 USA: Brave Pulisic goal sends Stars and Stripes to last 16
Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The US Men's National Team have won a nervy and tense Group B finale against Iran at the 2022 World Cup by a 1-0 scoreline thanks to a winner by Christian Pulisic to set up a Round of 16 clash with the Netherlands.

The Chelsea forward turned home a Sergino Dest header over the line seven minutes before halftime.

He collided with goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand after firing past him and needed treatment for several minutes before being replaced at halftime.

In a match with high stakes for both sides, Iran knew a simple draw would see them through to the knockout stages for the first time ever, but they mustered one shot on goal on the evening.

They did come close in the second half, substitute Saman Ghoddos flew his shot inches over the bar and Saeid Eztolahi also curled over.

Team Melli came closest in stoppage time, Morteza Pouraliganji meeting a free-kick with a diving header that went just wide.

Mehdi Taremi pleaded for a penalty with Cameron Carter-Vickers taking him down, but the referee waved play on.

USA saw the contest out and posted consecutive shutouts at the World Cup for the first time ever and qualified for the knockout stages for the fourth time in their last five appearances.

Story of the match

Iran manager Carlos Quieroz made just one change to his starting lineup, but it was an important one as starting goalkeeper Berinvand returned after sitting out against Wales with a concussion and broken nose.

Gregg Berhalter brought in Cameron Carter-Vickers in the center of defense in place of Walker Zimmerman while Josh Sargent was restored to the starting lineup with Haji Wright dropping to the bench.

USA came out with a real intent and purpose as Dest and Antonee Robinson played out wide more like wingers more than full-backs and it set the tone for the first half.

In the opening ten minutes, Yunus Musah, on his 20th birthday, got a volley all wrong before picking out Pulisic with a deep cross, but his header was tame.

Dest was proving to be the star man of the first 45 minutes and he forced Beiranvand to parry his inviting cross.

Iran created very little, Mehdi Taremi wasting a golden opportunity with 20 minutes gone to set up star man Sardar Azmoun.

In the 28th minute, saw his shot deflect to Tim Weah, scorer of the Stars and Stripes only goal in Qatar up to that point, but he failed to convert on the opportunity.

The goal seemed inevitable and it finally arrived on 38 minutes, Weston McKennie playing a perfect 45-yard diagonal ball to Dest nodding down for Pulisic in the six-yard box, who prodded home from close range.

 

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Just before halftime, Weah found the excellent Sargent, whose return pass was finished by the Lille winger, but he was ruled to have been marginally offsides.

Pulisic was replaced at halftime by Brenden Aaronson and was later diagnosed with an abdominal injury, but Sargent tested Beiranvand straight out of the locker room.

Six minutes after the break, Ghoddos, who came on for Azmoun, headed over at the back post with Team Melli's first shot on target as Dest did just enough to keep USA in front.

The Stars and Stripes trio of McKennie, Musah and captain Tyler Adams were working possession cleanly and controlling the action.

Iran knew they would need to play out of their comfort zone and in the 65th minute, another chance fell Ghoddos' way as the ball was behind him, but he went a couple of yards wide.

As the match neared its conclusion, USA were content to defend in numbers, evidence of this when Zimmerman and Shaq Moore came on for Dest and Weah.

Late on, Ramin Rezaeian sent a free-kick inches wide and in the third minute of stoppage time, Taremi nearly equalized following a cross that rolled up Moore's arm, leading to shouts for a penalty.

The Stars and Stripes saw out the match, setting up a meeting with the Dutch on Saturday after earning a hard-fought victory.

Player of the match: Christian Pulisic

This is the moment he has been waiting for his entire career and he took full advantage of it. He set the tone early with an industrious run at the Iran defense, tested Berinvand with a header and his magnificent run into the six-yard box and finish secured the USA's spot in the final 16.

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