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USA advances in Qatar World Cup with 1-0 win over Iran: NPR

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USA’s Christian Pulisic (right) shoots to score his team’s first goal past Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand during their teams World Cup match.

Manu Fernandez/AP


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Manu Fernandez/AP

USA advances in Qatar World Cup with 1-0 win over Iran: NPR

USA’s Christian Pulisic (right) shoots to score his team’s first goal past Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand during their teams World Cup match.

Manu Fernandez/AP

The United States beat Iran, 1-0, in a much-watched match at the Qatar World Cup, keeping the American team’s dreams of redemption alive.

Iran never reached the knockout round, where the initial 32 World Cup squads are halved to just 16. The US men’s team did, but taking the next step is a challenge. Huge goal as the team failed to even qualify for the last World Cup four years ago.

The United States had to beat Iran to qualify for the knockout stages. The Americans will then face the Netherlands on Saturday.

Iran only needed to equalize to move on after beating Wales 2-0 earlier in the competition.

Tuesday’s match was widely watched given the strained relationship between the United States and Iran, the tournament’s wider implications for both teams and the disputes surrounding the ongoing human rights protest movement in Iran that spilled over into Qatar.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. His death and the protests that followed are the biggest challenge to authoritarian rule since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

USA advances in Qatar World Cup with 1-0 win over Iran: NPR

Fans cheer before the World Cup Group B soccer match between Iran and USA at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

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Ricardo Mazalan/AP

Officials and bystanders were also watching for possible clashes between American and Iranian fans as well as between pro-government Iranian supporters and those supporting the protest movement at home. Earlier in the tournament, pro-government supporters reportedly harassed protesters outside one of the stadiums.

Cheerful groups of American and Iranian fans chanted ahead of the match outside Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday. A heavy security presence made itself known to fans entering to watch the game in person and likely discouraged any conflict.

The approximately 44,000 supporters at the stadium filled the air with a cacophony of noise and cheers from the start of the game, making it seem like there were twice as many people in attendance.

Around the 38th minute of the game, American Christian Pulisic put the Americans ahead with the only goal of the game, (literally) charging into the net and sacrificing his own body in the process. The crowd was momentarily buoyed by the goal but calmed down as Pulisic struggled to his feet and was eventually helped off the field.

He was out the rest of the game with an injury to the abdomen and replaced by Brenden Aaronson.

NPR’s Tom Goldman reports from Doha, Qatar.



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