Iran vs USA 0-1: Pulisic Lone Goal Avenges France 98 Loss

Revenge is best served cold and the U.S.A. waited 24 years to avenge their World Cup loss against Iran in their first historical encounter in 1998. But while both sides had already been eliminated when they squared off in that historical France ’98 matchup, tonight there was much more at stake at the Al Thumama Stadium as Iran and the U.S. were battling for a spot in the knockout stage.

USNMT won the game and the ticket to the knockouts with a lone goal from Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, capturing their second qualification in a row after 2014 (they missed out on World Cup 2018). Iran, on the other hand, failed to pass the Group Stage once again, for the sixth time out of six tournament participations.

Carlos Queiroz’s Team Melli had a golden chance to finally make it through as a draw would have been enough to grab the second spot in Group B. However, after their willful performance against Wales, the Iranians made several steps back and never really managed to trouble the opposition goalkeeper Matt Turner, not even after going down.  

The US thus joined top-ranked England in the last 16 showdown, where they will face Netherlands on Saturday. But let’s just say that their performance was not a memorable one either. 

The match followed the expected pattern, with the US taking the initiative and Iran defending themselves and trying to hit on the counter. Team Melli‘s defense did their job well as the Americans strugglde to find any space in the final third. There were a couple of chances for Gregg Berhalter’s team but George Weah failed to make the best out of any.

Still, the US put their heads ahead on 38 minutes, courtesy of a Serie A-powered action. Weston McKennie picked Sergino Dest with a perfectly-timed long-range cross and the Milan right-back headed the ball in the middle of the box for Christian Pulisic’s winning tap in.

The goal conceded broke Iran’s momentum and the US could have scored a second before half time. However, Weah and Josh Sargent failed to find the winning strike after combining beautifully from a fast break, then the Lille forward was caught offside as he slotted home another brilliant suggestion from McKennie.   

Iran were expected to be more aggressive after the restart as Carlos Queiroz made two substitutions during the half time break. The newly-introduced Saman Ghoddos came close to drawing level in a couple of occasions, but first he headed off target a cross from the right hand side, and then fired a shot into the stands from the edge of the box. 

Overall, Team Melli seemed to lack ideas and offensive options as their only really dangerous conclusion came from center back Morteza Pouraliganji, who headed the ball just a few inches wide from a set piece. Mehdi Taremi went for a dive in the box during added time but the referee Mateu Lahoz did not buy it.   

USMNT were able to wrap their historical win without suffering too much in the second half but perhaps they should have tried to add a second to their tally. On the other hand, their offensive performance after the restart was lackluster and keeper Alireza Beiranvand suffered no threat. Still, that was enough to get the three points on offer and shatter the Persians’ dreams. 



November 29, 2022 – FIFA World Cup Group B
IRAN – U.S.A. 0-1

SCORER: 38′ Pulisic

IRAN (4-3-3): Beiranvand; Rezaeian, M. Hosseini, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi (45+2′ Karimi); Nourollahi (71′ Torabi), Ezatolahi, Hajsafi (71′ Jalali); Gholizadeh (77′ Ansarifard), Taremi, Azmoun (46′ Ghoddos) (Niazmand, Abedzadeh, H. Hosseini, Khalilzadeh, Jahanbakhsh, Amiri, Kanaani, Cheshmi) Coach: Queiroz
U.S.A. (4-3-3): Turner; Dest (82′ Moore), Carter-Vickers, Ream, Robinson; Musah, Adams, McKennie (66′ Acosta); Weah (82′ Zimmerman), Sargent (77′ Wright), Pulisic (46′ Aaronson). (Horvath, Johnson, Reyna, Ferreira, De la Torre, Long, Morris, Roldan, Yedlin, Scally) Coach: Berhalter
REFEREE: Mr. Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
NOTES: Yellow Cards:  Adams (U), M. Hosseini, Jalali (I); Added Time: 1st Half 7′, 2nd Half 9′
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