Group B at the 2022 World Cup ended in expected fashion tonight after a young United States side ran out in a tense 1-0 win over Iran, guaranteeing passage into the knockout stage of the tournament for the first time since 2014 thanks to “Captain America” Christian Pulisic who produced the goods when it mattered for his country.
The opening fifteen minutes provided chaotic back-and-forth action at both ends of the pitch as Iran and the United States came out of the gates swinging and created half-chances for the final third. But a contrast in tactical approaches emerged from early on as Gregg Berhalter’s young side dominated possession while finding joy down the flanks to utilize their pace while Iran banked on sitting deep to hit on the counter through an experienced European-based forward line.
Berhalter’s men kept knocking on the door just before the thirty-minute mark when Timothy Weah could only head right at goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand after Josh Sargent’s rasping effort deflected up and into space for the LOSC Lille forward to test the Iranian keeper in a match-flow that began to tilt as one-way traffic in favor of the CONCACAF outfit.
That period of continued dominance finally paid off in the 39th minute after Sergiño Dest found space down the right-hand flank thanks to a brilliant ball from Weston McKennie to head across the face of the goal and in the path of Christian Pulisic before he slotted into the back of the net from close range for his 22nd international goal and first at a World Cup.
Both nations made changes during the half-time interval but none more significant than Pulisic being removed after suffering an abdominal injury after a collision with Beyranvand during his first-half goal, with Leeds United starlet Brenden Aaronson replacing him.
Iran started to knock on the door in their own right when substitute Saman Ghoddos headed over the bar from close range and exposed a similar trend shown by the US previously as the United States did not begin the second half with the same fervor on display during the opening 45-minutes.
A return to back-and-forth hectic football returned as Iran desperately looked for an equalizer why the US looked to put faith in their ability to be direct on the counter but come full-time the United States emerged with three points to move into the knockout stage and a date with Cody Gakpo’s Netherlands outfit after the Dutch confirmed their pathway as Group A winners.
Iran Player Ratings
- Alireza Beyranvand (GK): 6.5
- Ramin Rezaeian (RB): 6.5
- Majid Hosseini (CB): 7
- Morteza Pouraliganji (CB): 6
- Milad Mohammadi (LB): 6.5
- Saeid Ezatolahi (DM): 6.5
- Ahmad Noorollahi (CM): 6
- Ehsan Hajisafi (CM): 6
- Ali Gholizadeh (RW): 6.5
- Mehdi Taremi (LW): 6.5
- Sardar Azmoun (CF): 6
- Ali Karimi (Sub): 6.5
- Saman Ghoddos (Sub): 6
- Mehdi Torabi (Sub): 6
- Abolfazi Jalali (Sub): 6
- Karim Ansarifard (Sub): 6
United States Player Ratings
- Matt Turner (GK): 7 - Organized the defense well and remained confident when dealing with a plethora of balls into the box from Iran. A good performance from the Arsenal number 2.
- Sergiño Dest (RB): 7.5 - A lovely headed cross for Pulisic was no less than Dest deserved as he was a key attacking outlet tonight in a very good overall performance.
- Cameron Carter-Vickers (CB): 6.5 - Hardly perfect but probably better than the man he replaced in Walker Zimmerman and could be called upon against the Netherlands.
- Tim Ream (CB): 6.5 - The veteran Fulham defender was okay on the night. Some questions could be asked in certain areas of his game but overall he was okay.
- Antonee Robinson (LB): 7 - The Fulham left-back offered a key attacking outlet down the left-hand flank during the first half while defending well throughout.
- Tyler Adams (DM): 7 - Despite his booking, the Leeds United midfielder and US captain was good once again at the base of the midfield. His country’s best player this tournament.
- Weston McKennie (CM): 7- Provided an excellent “assist before the assist” ball to Dest for the US goal but his fitness concerns pre-tournament cropped up again. A solid outing.
- Yunus Musah (CM): 6.5 - That rating might be slightly harsh on Musah, who worked his socks off on both ends of the ball, but don’t read too much into it. He was solid.
- Timothy Weah (RW): 6.5 - Had a few chances to make the right decision either when presented with a scoring chance or being able to turn provider but lacked decisiveness.
- Christian Pulisic (LW): 8 - An excellent 45-minutes from Pulisic as he was vital in the attacking third as expected which included his goal but was removed during the interval.
- Josh Sargent (CF): 6.5 - His level of play was good enough to lead the line on the night and had a few decent looks but lacked the overall finished article.
- Brenden Aaronson (Sub): 6.5
- Kellyn Acosta (Sub): 6
- Haji Wright (Sub): 6
- Walker Zimmerman (Sub): 6
- Shaq Moore (Sub): 6