World Cup: Christian Pulisic taken to hospital as U.S. beats Iran

The USA, who needed a win to advance to the Round of 16 at the World Cup, took care of business on Tuesday by beating Iran 1-0 late in the first half through a Christian Pulisic goal.

The victory saw unbeaten USA (1-0-2) finish second in their group behind England and meet Group A champions the Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday. Meanwhile, Iran missed the round of 16 for the sixth time in many World Cup appearances.

But the Iranians didn’t make it easy for the Americans, fighting until the last minute of injury time that threatened the USA’s victory until the final whistle. The USA capitalized on two top Iranian chances in a chaotic finish to secure their ticket to the next round.

FILE - The branding will be on display near the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar on March 31, 2022

⚽ World Cup 2022 in Qatar

The only goal the USA needed came in the 38th minute when Pulisic found a half-step at Iranian defenders Majid Hosseini and Ramin Rezaeian, deflecting a Sergiño Dest header from the six-yard box into the net.

The USA put on some excellent passes in goal preparation as Tyler Adams sent the ball down the field with a back pass for Weston McKennie, who selected an unmarked Dest who sprinted down the wing. Dest’s cross from the right side of the six-yard box was so accurate that Pulisic only had to stick his right shoe out to save it before colliding with Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Pulisic seemed to pin a knee to the groin and spent several long minutes getting supplies in goal before finally getting up and making a brief return to the game. He didn’t start the second half, however, choosing Brenden Aaronson. Pulisic was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for an abdominal injury, a spokesman for the US men’s soccer team said.

Pulisic was involved in both US goals in that tournament, assisting Tim Weah’s goal in the opening game and then scoring against Iran himself. Weah thought it made it 2-0 just before half-time but he was narrowly ruled offside before unrolling a shot at the far post.

With Cameron Carter-Vickers replacing Walker Zimmerman at centre-back, the USA fielded for the first time in their history a World Cup roster composed entirely of players from European professional teams. She was also the youngest starting XI at the tournament, averaging a month under 25. Iran, meanwhile, have the oldest team in Qatar and the age difference seemed obvious in a first half in which the USA built up a 61% to 41% possession advantage and beat Iran 9-0.

But then Iran, who only needed a draw to progress, showed little interest in continuing and holed up in the penalty area with up to seven defenders. Pulisic’s goal changed that, with Iran needing their own goal for the first time to get out of group play.

Iran, who scored all four goals in this tournament in the second half – three of them in added time – opened the game after the break and had several dangerous chances but never tested US keeper Matt Turner until the end Protocol.

Turner didn’t concede a goal during the game, conceding just one penalty goal against Gareth Bale of Wales in the first game.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/story/2022-11-29/united-states-iran-christian-pulisic-world-cup-2022 World Cup: Christian Pulisic taken to hospital as U.S. beats Iran

Emma Bowman

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