The U.S. beat Iran 1-0 in a gutsy must-win game at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, sending the team to the second round of the tournament where it will face The Netherlands in a knockout-stage game this weekend.
Christian Pulisic made the difference today with a charging goal in the 38th minute of a dominant first half for the Americans at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. It was the 22nd U.S. goal for the Chelsea striker, though he was injured during the play and was subbed out at halftime.
The U.S. needed a victory in the Group B match to advance. With the win, they will play Group A winner the Dutch to open the second-round knockout stage Saturday. That game will air on it the U.S. on Fox, Telemundo and Peacock at 10 a.m. ET.
The U.S. missed the World Cup in 2018 but has now reached the round of 16 for three consecutive World Cup appearances and in four of its past five overall. The win also snapped a five-game winless streak for Team USA that included a disappointing 1-1 tie in its World Cup opener against Wales, and a much stronger effort but a 0-0 tie against eventual Group B winner England.
That U.S.-England game on Black Friday drew 15.4 million viewers on Fox, while another 4.6M tuned in to the U.S. Spanish-language coverage on Telemundo, Peacock and digital platforms. That was up 33% for the U.S.’ opener against Wales.
England beat Wales 3-0 in the other final group game Tuesday and will play Senegal in the knockout round. Iran and Wales have been eliminated. Group play continues through Friday, with fates up in the air for pre-tournament favorites including Argentina, Spain, Germany and Belgium among others.
On Pulisic’s goal, Weston McKennie’s through ball found Sergiño Dest streaming into the right side of the penalty box. Dest headed it across the goal box to a charging Pulisic, who pushed the ball on one hop past reaching Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, but the two collided. Pulisic stayed down for several minutes.
Pulisic’s status for the rest of the team’s tournament run is unclear but Fox reported after the game that he was taken to the hospital with an abdominal injury. Pulisic, considered one of Team’s USA’s best players and scorers, later tweeted from his hospital bed that he’d be back for Saturday.
The U.S. dominated possession in the first half and had a 8-0 lead in shots, but the second half was more nervy as Iran pressed for the equalizer. The U.S. made more defensive subs late and sweated through 9-plus minutes of extra time, including central defender Walker Zimmerman, one of those subs, clearing away one ball off the goal line after it got past U.S. keeper Matt Turner in 98th minute to help the cause.
There was plenty of tension outside the soccer aspect in the U.S.-Iran matchup, a rematch of a 1998 World Cup meeting where Iran beat the U.S. 2-1. Qatari officials have been working to minimize protests surrounding Iran and its unrest at home stemming from the death in September of Mahsa Amini while in police custody.
The U.S. Soccer Federation omitted the Islamic Republic emblem from Iran’s flag in social media posts previewing today’s game. Iran made a formal protest to FIFA, the World Cup organizer, to kick Team USA out of the tournament for the slight.
The USSF later told CNN the symbolic move was made to “support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.” The IR emblem was back on all flags after 24 hours.