Iran 0-1 United States: Player ratings as Pulisic strike seals round of 16 spot for USMNT

Jack Gallagher
The all important goal
The all important goal / Stuart Franklin/GettyImages
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A first half goal from Christian Pulisic proved to be the difference between Iran and the United States, as Gregg Berhalter sealed a famous win to secure knockout round football at the 2022 World Cup.

The USMNT were the much better side in the opening 15 minutes, with Yunus Musah's dynamic running from midfield causing the Iranian backline some problems. The Valencia teenager had the most noteworthy strike on goal in this period of pressure, firing a volley from just outside the box over the crossbar.

The first real chance of the game would fall to Timothy Weah in the 28th minute. The ball, quite fortunately, deflected into the air and right into his path inside the box but, instead of waiting until the ball dropped, Weah attempted to head goalward. The subsequent header was rather tame - to say the very, very least.

A few minutes later Weah would spurn another opportunity to make it 1-0. The LOSC Lille man was found with a cut-back by Josh Sargent on the right of the penalty area, but could only drill his strike on goal over the crossbar.

The goal would finally come in the 38th minute through Christian Pulisic. A brilliant ball looped over the top by Weston McKennie was headed back across goal by the energetic Sergino Dest, allowing Pulisic to coolly volley home.

USMNT thought they'd deservedly made it 2-0 in added time at the end of the half when Weah latched onto a great McKennie through ball to tap past Alireza Beiranvand and into the back of the net. However, replays showed that Weah just went too early.

Iran looked like a much more competent football team at the start of the second half, with substitute Saman Ghoddos causing the USMNT defence much more problems than Sardar Azmoun did in the first half. The Brentford man came close to levelling in the 52nd minute, diving in to get his head on a dangerous Ramin Rezaeian cross from the right flank. His headed effort however, flew over the bar.

They continued to push forward in search of an equaliser and almost found it in the 64th minute. The chance would once again fall to Ghoddos who, after being found unmarked inside the penalty area with a low cross, was unable to curl his effort on goal in between the posts.

The Americans defended well after those two chances, only conceding one more chance before the final whistle. That chance would fall to Morteza Pouraliganji, who headed just wide from a decent set piece from the left flank.


Iran player ratings (4-3-3)

Sardar Azmoun
Sardar Azmoun had a difficult night / Jam Media/GettyImages

GK: Alireza Beiranvand - 5/10 - Could do nothing about the goal.

RB: Ramin Rezaeian - 6/10 - Anonymous in the first half, but got forward and caused problems in the second.

CB: Majid Hosseini - 6/10 - Made a few good challenges.

CB: Morteza Pouraliganji - 4/10 - Didn't really track the runs in behind as he should have.

LB: Milad Mohammadi - 2/10 - Really struggled to deal with Dest's overlapping runs. Hooked before half-time.

CM: Ahmad Nourollahi - 4/10 - Couldn't get his foot on the ball in midfield.

CM: Saeid Ezatolahi - 3/10 - The game passed him by.

CM: Ehsan Haji Safi - 4/10 - Fairly bad in the first half, improved performance in the second.

RW: Ali Gholizadeh - 6/10 - Caused the US backline some problems in the second half.

ST: Sardar Azmoun - N/A - Honestly, forgot he was on until he was subbed off.

LW: Medhi Taremi - 6/10 - The most willing runner up top for Iran.


Substitutes

SUB: Saman Ghoddos - 6/10 - Provided a bit of spark up top for Iran, but missed a few chances too.

SUB: Ali Karimi - 5/10.

SUB: Mehdi Torabi - N/A.

SUB: Abolfazl Jalali - N/A.

SUB: Karim Ansarifard - N/A.


United States player ratings (4-3-3)

Sergino Dest
Sergino Dest shone for the United States / Jam Media/GettyImages

GK: Matt Turner - 5/10 - He didn't have a whole lot to do.

RB: Sergino Dest - 8/10 - Best player on the pitch. Got a deserved assist for the opener.

CB: Cameron Carter-Vickers - 7/10 - Very solid defensive performance from the Celtic man. Walker Zimmerman may find it hard to get back in this team.

CB: Tim Ream - 7/10 - Like his centre-back partner, solid.

LB: Antonee Robinson - 5/10 - Struggled defensively in the second half.

CM: Weston McKennie - 7/10 - So much more composed on the ball than he usually looks at Juventus. Played some nice passes in behind the Iran defence.

CM: Tyler Adams - 7/10 - Great in and out of possession.

CM: Yunus Musah - 7/10 - A real livewire in the opening exchanges. He set the tempo for the USMNT.

RW: Timothy Weah - 5/10 - Lively but missed a boatload of chances and scored a disallowed goal. It just wasn't his night.

ST: Josh Sargent - 6/10 - Put in a real shift up top.

LW: Christian Pulisic - 7/10 - USMNT's star man got the all-important opening goal. Injured himself scoring it though.


Substitutes

SUB: Brenden Aaronson - 4/10 - Replaced Pulisic and didn't provide anywhere near the same level of quality on the ball.

SUB: Kellyn Acosta - N/A.

SUB: Haji Wright - N/A.

SUB: Shaq Moore - N/A.

SUB: Walker Zimmerman - N/A.


Player of the match - Sergino Dest

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