England hammer Wales while US edge out Iran to head into last 16
Issued on: 29/11/2022 – 22:50Modified: 29/11/2022 – 22:57
Christian Pulisic bundled the ball home at a cacophonous Al Thumama Stadium as the United States stormed into the World Cup last 16 on Tuesday by beating Iran 1-0 while England cruised into the knockout stages after thrashing Wales 3-0.
Pulisic’s 38th minute goal proved enough for the to advance at the expense of their geopolitical rivals.
Sergino Dest headed the ball into the path of the sprinting Pulisic, who swept it into the net to momentarily silence the raucous supporters in front of him but he crashed into the outstretched Alireza Beiranvand in the process.
Pulisic was back on his feet after receiving treatment for a few minutes but did not look comfortable and he was replaced by Brenden Aaronson at the break after sustaining an abdominal injury, in a major blow for the Americans’ knockout stage hopes.
The US finished two points behind Group B winners to reach the last 16 for the fifth time since 1994.
England’s Marcus Rashford played a stellar game against rivals Wales scoring twice to move into a group of four players level on three goals in the race for the Golden Boot. Phil Foden scored the team’s other goal of the match.
“This is what I play football for, the biggest moments, the best moments,” Rashford, who has experienced a huge upturn in form for club and country this season, told the BBC.
“I’m really happy today that we’re going through to the next round. I have massive ambition for this team and think we can play even better than we showed today.”
England will now go into their last-16 clash with Group A runners-up Senegal.
England are the tournament’s top scorers with nine goals despite drawing their second group game against the United States 0-0. Rashford was one of four changes made by Gareth Southgate from that match and said the squad were keen to make amends from a lacklustre performance.
“We were a little bit disappointed as a team after the last game against the USA. I thought we could’ve played a lot better and the only way to bounce back is to have a good performance in the next game and we did that,” added Rashford.
Gregg Berhalter’s US team, the second youngest at this year’s finals, may lack experience on the big stage but they stepped up Tuesday night and delivered a commanding performance when their spot at the World Cup was on the line.
Knowing that only a win would keep them in the tournament, they pressed with high intensity from the first whistle — their full backs almost playing as wingers – and chances flowed for their free-flowing attack.
Tim Weah, who spurned two glorious opportunities before Pulisic put the Americans ahead, had the ball in the net late in the first half but his strike was ruled offside.
Iran, who only needed a point to advance, were largely restricted to playing on the counter and unable to muster a credible attempt at scoring until the second half.
Substitute Saman Ghoddos, who replaced Sardar Azmoun at half time, almost pulled Iran level after meeting a superb cross from Ramin Rezaeian in Team Melli’s best chance of the match but they never really troubled a dominant US side.
For Wales, their return to the World Cup stage has been all too brief for the fans who were given little to cheer in their three matches as they finished bottom with a solitary point.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)
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