Pulisic’s goal in the 38th minute proved enough for the Americans to advance at the expense of their geopolitical rivals.
Sergino Dest headed the ball into the path of the sprinting Pulisic, who swept it into the net to briefly silence the raucous Iranian supporters in front of him, only to crash into the sprawling Alireza Beiranvand in the process.
Your final standings in Group B 👀 @USMNT join @England in the Knockout Stage 🇺🇸
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Pulisic got back on his feet after a few minutes of treatment but did not look comfortable and was replaced at the break by Brenden Aaronson after suffering an abdominal injury, a major blow to the Americans’ knockout stage hopes.
USA is through to the knockouts! 🇺🇸@adidasfootball | #FIFA world cup
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The USA finished two points behind Group B winners England and reached the last 16 for the fifth time since 1994. Iran finished third on three points, with Wales bottom by one point.
Gregg Berhalter’s USA team, the second youngest in this year’s final, may not have big stage experience, but they stepped up and turned in an impressive performance as their World Cup spot was on the line.
Knowing that only a win would keep them in the tournament, they pressed with high intensity from the first whistle – their full-backs played almost like wingers – and the opportunities flowed for their free-flowing attack.
Tim Weah, who played two glorious chances before Pulisic put the Americans ahead, had the ball in the net late in the first half, but his shot was ruled out for offside.
Needing only a point to advance, Iran was largely limited to playing on the counterattack and couldn’t muster a credible attempt at scoring until the second half.
Substitute Saman Ghoddos, who replaced Sardar Azmoun at half-time, almost leveled Iran after a great cross from Ramin Rezaeian in Team Melli’s best chance of the game, but they never really troubled a dominant American side.