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Iran 0-1 USA: Brave Christian Pulisic the hero to seal World Cup 2022 last-16 spot

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Christian Pulisic inspired USA to a deserved 1-0 victory over Iran in their World Cup winner-takes-all group clash at Al Thumama Stadium.

The Chelsea man scored the game's only goal – and was forced off with the injury he suffered in the process – but it was enough for Greg Berghalter's side to book a last 16 tie against the Netherlands. The three points sealed second place in Group B behind England for the States.

The USMNT knew only a victory would see them qualify for the knockout stages and they dominated virtually from the first whistle.

In a high-octane opening, Timothy Weah should have done better when reacting to a deflected Josh Sargeant shot, opting to head tamely at goal instead of taking a touch. He later blazed over after some good work from Sergino Dest down the right.

It looked like the USA might not turn their dominance into a tangible lead, until the impressive Dest got forward once again on the overlap and squared to Pulisic with his head. The Chelsea man threw himself in harm's way to bundle home from close range – and at some personal cost; he didn't emerge for the second half.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar | Best Images and Moments

England’s Marcus Rashford scores their first goal from a free kick past Wales’ Danny (REUTERS)
England’s Marcus Rashford scores their first goal from a free kick past Wales’ Danny (REUTERS)
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal celebrates after their sides victory during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium (Getty Images)
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal celebrates after their sides victory during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Ecuador and Senegal at Khalifa International Stadium (Getty Images)
USA’s forward #10 Christian Pulisic scores his team’s first goal past Iran’s goalkeeper #01 Alireza Beiranvand during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and USA at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha (AFP via Getty Images)
USA’s forward #10 Christian Pulisic scores his team’s first goal past Iran’s goalkeeper #01 Alireza Beiranvand during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and USA at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha (AFP via Getty Images)
A pitch invader runs across the field with a rainbow flag during the World Cup group H match between Portugal and Uruguay, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail (AP)
A pitch invader runs across the field with a rainbow flag during the World Cup group H match between Portugal and Uruguay, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail (AP)
Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar, left, scores the second goal past Serbia’s goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic during the World Cup group G soccer match between Cameroon and Serbia, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar (AP)
Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar, left, scores the second goal past Serbia’s goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic during the World Cup group G soccer match between Cameroon and Serbia, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar (AP)
Brazil’s midfielder #05 Casemiro celebrates with teammates after he scored his team’s first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G match v Switzerland at Stadium 974 in Doha (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil’s midfielder #05 Casemiro celebrates with teammates after he scored his team’s first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G match v Switzerland at Stadium 974 in Doha (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance to score v USA (REUTERS)
England’s Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance to score v USA (REUTERS)
France’s Kylian Mbappe scores their second goal v Denmark (REUTERS)
France’s Kylian Mbappe scores their second goal v Denmark (REUTERS)
Fans from Japan wait for the start of the World Cup group E soccer match v Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, (AP)
Fans from Japan wait for the start of the World Cup group E soccer match v Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, (AP)
Uruguay’s forward #21 Edinson Cavani (bottom) eyes the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group H match between Portugal and Uruguay at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doh (AFP via Getty Images)
Uruguay’s forward #21 Edinson Cavani (bottom) eyes the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group H match between Portugal and Uruguay at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doh (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ghana staff member takes selfie with despondent Heung-min Son after victory over South Korea (BBC)
A Ghana staff member takes selfie with despondent Heung-min Son after victory over South Korea (BBC)

It might have been 2-0 just before the break when Weah broke through and slotted left-footed into the far corner, but was rightly flagged offside.

The second half was scrappy as Iran tried to fight their way back – knowing a draw would be enough to qualify – but they failed to produce anything of quality in the attacking third.