US beats Iran in highly-charged WC tiff

Agence France-Presse

DOHA, Qatar  – The United States beat Iran, 1-0, in a battle of geopolitical foes to reach the knockout phase of the World Cup on Tuesday while England eased through against Wales.

The Americans earned a second round meeting with the Netherlands after Christian Pulisic bundled the ball into the net in the 38th minute of an absorbing contest in Doha.

Only the third international meeting of the bitter ideological rivals had been marked by a bad-tempered buildup.

Iran’s Football Federation on Sunday demanded that FIFA punish US Soccer for posting a modified version of their country’s flag on social media.

Meanwhile the Iran team’s every move in Qatar has been scrutinized for signs the players are showing support for mass anti-government protests that have shaken the Islamic republic.

On Tuesday, having opted not to do so in their opening match, the Iranian players did sing the national anthem, albeit without much enthusiasm, in the highly-charged atmosphere of the Al Thumama Stadium.

There was nothing half-hearted about the Iranians’ performance though, but the Americans were deserved winners after digging deep for the victory.

England’s task was easier, as they swept past Wales, 3-0, to win Group B and set up a meeting with Senegal on Sunday.

After an uneventful first half in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden pounced in the space of two second-half minutes to effectively end the contest.


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