The US have reached the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar after defeating Iran on Tuesday with 1-0 score line.

In a tense encounter between two arch political rivals, the US were more aggressive of the two with a total of 12 attempts on goal. Five of these were on target.

The result is opposite to the last time they had met in the Football World Cup. It was in 1998 when Iran had overpowered the US 2-1. In that edition of the mega sport event, the Americans had lost all the three group games. However, both of them couldn’t qualify for the next stage after occupying the third and fourth slots.  

On the other hand, Iran, despite having about the same ball possession, could not challenge the American defence. They produced five shots of which only one was on target.

It was Christian Pulisic who made the decisive contribution in the 38th minute as he beat the Iranian defenders by netting a cross from the right flank.

During the process, he collided with the Iranian goalkeeper, resulting in stoppage of play for several minutes. However, he rejoined the game soon.

Meanwhile, the US should have had a 2-0 score line. Just before the half-time whistle, their goal was disallowed for being offside. But the TV images shown later made people question the linesman’s decision. Interestingly, the VAR didn’t intervene in the matter.

The result means the US finished second in Group B behind England, setting a Round of 16 tie against the Netherlands who topped the Group A.

Former US coach Juergen Klinsmann, a World Cup winner with Germany, had stirred up this tie when he’d said in television comments that it was in the Iranian culture to heckle the referees that forced them to lose focus, provoking a strong reaction from Iran coach Carlos Queiroz who invited Klinsmann to attend an Iran training session but only after he resigns from FIFA’s Technical Study Group.

Moreover, tensions had been simmering even before that after the United States Soccer Federation had removed the Islamic emblem from the Iranian flag in a social media post. US coach Gregg Berhalter was forced to apologise. He and his captain Tyler Adams underwent an extensive grilling on the eve of the game by Iranian reporters. Adams, who is Black, was asked how it felt to be in a racist country.

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