USA's forward Christian Pulisic scores his team's first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and USA at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on November 29, 2022. (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
DOHA, Qatar - Christian Pulisic scored while crashing headfirst into the goalkeeper in the 38th minute and the United States advanced to the knockout round of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday in a politically charged rematch of their famous meeting a quarter-century ago.
Pulisic sprawled on the field and was lying in the goal for about three minutes as he received treatment from the U.S. staff. He reentered the game but was replaced at the start of the second half.
The Americans finished second in Group B with five points, two behind England, and will play the Netherlands on Saturday with the chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
Iran finished third with three points. The team has failed to advance in all six of its World Cup appearances.
There was heightened tension surrounding the match because of the strained relations between the United States and Iran’s Islamic government. Iran had famously upset the U.S. 2-1 in the 1998 tournament in France, eliminating the Americans.
Pregame protocols were normal, unlike the 1998 game, when Iranians presented the Americans with white flowers and the teams posed for a joint photo.
Raucous Iranian fans with horns and drums in the crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind one goal at Al Thumama Stadium and were far louder than the red-white-and-blue U.S. supporters at the other end and behind the American bench.
Christian Pulisic of the USA scores against Iran's Majid Hosseini and Ramin Rezaeian to make it 0-1. (Photo by Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The U.S. outshot Iran 9-0 in the first half but didn’t break through until Pulisic came up with the big moment that a growing and increasingly demanding fan base back home had been pining for.
Weston McKennie lofted a pass from just past the center circle to Sergiño Dest at the edge of the 6-yard box. Dest headed the ball in front of the net on a bounce as Pulisic charged up the center of the field past Ramin Rezaeian and Majid Hosseiniand.
Turning his body to let the ball hit his right foot, Pulisic knocked the ball for his 22nd international goal and first in World Cup play. His momemtum carried him into goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, and Pulisic needed to be helped to his feet before going back in.
Tim Weah, who scored the Americans’ goal in the opening 1-1 draw with Wales, nearly doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time but was ruled offside.
Brenden Aaronson replaced Pulisic at the start of the second half.
USA players celebrate victory and Iran players are dejected after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between IR Iran and USA at Al Thumama Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Imag
With England ahead of Wales, Iran knew it needed only a draw to advance and finally got its first shot at goalkeeper Matt Turner when Saman Ghoddos put a header over the crossbar in the 52nd minute. Saeid Ezatolahi put an open shot high and wide in the 70th and Morteza Pouraliganji’s diving header in the third minute of nine minutes of stoppage 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 got a slight hand on Mehdi Taremi.
USA's midfielder Weston McKennie celebrates his team's first goal scored by USA's forward #10 Christian Pulisic during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and USA at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on November 29, 2022. (Photo
Cameron Carter-Vickers, a son of former NBA player Howard Carter, made his World Cup debut in place of Zimmerman and gave the U.S. an entirely Europe-based lineup for the first time ever in World Cup play.
The U.S. is 1-4 against the Netherlands, all friendlies, overcoming a two-goal deficit to win 4-3 at Amsterdam in 2015.