Pulisic goal advances US in World Cup with 1-0 win over Iran

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Christian Pulisic kicked the ball, scored the goal and crashed into the goalkeepera collision that sent the American star to hospital and to the United States in the second round of the World Cup.

More than an hour later, he contacted his teammates by FaceTime to join in the celebration.

Pulisic’s 38th-minute goal had stood and the United States beat Iran 1-0 on Tuesday night in their politically charged rematch to qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup.

“Every player is ready to put their body on the line to make sure this team succeeds,” said midfielder Weston McKennie.

After finishing second in Group B with five points, two behind England, the United States face the Netherlands on Saturday with the chance of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 2002.

“I always say it’s us against the world,” winger Tim Weah said, “because no one believed the United States could play good football.”

Returning to the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the United States needed a victory to reach the knockout stages. Iran finished third in the group with three points and failed to improve in six World Cup matches.

“The dream is over,” said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz.

McKennie started play for the goal when he kicked the ball just past the center circle to Sergiño Dest at the edge of the penalty area. Dest headed the ball past the net on a rebound as Pulisic charged down the center of the pitch past Ramin Rezaeian and Majid Hosseini.

Twisting his body, Pulisic redirected the ball with his right foot for his 22nd international goal and first in the World Cup. His momentum carried him to goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

“Christian does these errands. That’s what he does. That’s the special quality he has,” said USA coach Gregg Berhalter. “As soon as the ball is wide, it enters the penalty area with intensity and good things happen.”

Pulisic was lying on the ground and for about three minutes while receiving treatment. He tried to keep playing but was substituted early in the second half and taken by athletic trainer Harris Patel for abdominal scans at Hamad General Hospital, where Pulisic followed the game on phone apps. The United States Soccer Federation said Pulisic was diagnosed with a pelvic contusion, returned to the team hotel and was on day-to-day.

“I texted him and checked it out, and he said, ‘I better believe I’ll be ready on Saturday,'” McKennie said.

Weah almost doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time, but was declared offside.

Loud Iranian fans with horns and drums in the crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind a goal at Al Thumama Stadium, a circular hall shaped like a gahfiya, a traditional hat.

While the United States beat Iran 9-0 in the first half, Iran had a 4-3 advantage in the second, knowing they only needed a draw to advance. Berhalter inserted Walker Zimmerman in the 82nd minute and moved to a five-man defense.

Nine minutes of additional time have been announced. Morteza Pouraliganji’s diving header in the third minute went just wide. In the eighth minute, Cameron Carter-Vickers had a hand on the shoulder of Mehdi Taremi as the striker slid into Matt Turner, and the ball went through the goalkeeper only for Zimmerman to clear it. Spanish referee Antonio Mateu rejected Iran’s appeal for a video review, and the final whistle after the 10th extra minute.

“I hope our fans and our people in Iran will forgive us,” Taremi said.

Turner gave the United States back-to-back World Cup shutouts for the first time since 1930. Inside the locker room, his teammates tried to talk to Pulisic.

“Everyone was screaming, so we couldn’t really hear too much, too much,” Turner said. “He left everything, put everything on the line there and managed to get the ball across the line.”

CALENDAR

Carter-Vickers, a son of former NBA player Howard Carter, made his World Cup debut in place of Zimmerman and gave the United States an all-Europe-based roster for the second time in a game competition since the start of Major League Soccer in 1996, the first since the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup against Jamaica.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Josh Sargent injured his right ankle in a 74th-minute challenge from Hosseini and left three minutes later.

NEXT

The United States are 1-4 against the Netherlands, all friendlies.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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