Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said his team deserved at least a draw against the United States after their 1-0 defeat on Tuesday while adding that they had gained the "respect of the whole world" in Qatar.
Iran needed at least a draw in the World Cup Group B clash to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages, but the United States won 1-0 through Christian Pulisic's goal seven minutes before halftime to go through and play the Netherlands in the last 16.
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"I said before in 2018 that I had previously coached many clubs and national teams, but I have never seen in my career players who give everything and get nothing in return like the Iranian players," Queiroz said after the match.
"Sometimes football is not fair, and we will come back stronger and have succeeded in gaining the respect of the whole world."
Queiroz bemoaned his side's inability to score against a motivated US team, which he called the most consistent in their group ahead of the match.
"Football gods bless those who score goals, and unfortunately we didn't score," Queiroz said. "I said before the match that the United States were the most consistent team in the first two games.
"The United States started the match as they did against Wales and England, and they were better than us, more ferocious and faster, and scored a goal, and I was not surprised by that.
"But in the second half the situation changed and we took possession of the ball and created more chances than the United States did in the first half and we deserved to score at least a goal.
"The United States players have the speed and if I may say when you play against Ferraris you need to close the highway, and that's what we did after the break and we were the better team."
The Portuguese coach praised his players for their commitment and efforts in training and matches.
"We train in an atmosphere that is not comparable to other teams, but when I work with the players on a daily basis they show enthusiasm and desire to represent Iran," said Queiroz, who returned to coach Iran for a second stint last September.
However, he declined to talk about the last play of the match in which Iran's players demanded a penalty when striker Mehdi Taremi went down in the area as defender Cameron Carter-Vickers tried to stop him from scoring.
"I have not seen a replay of it yet, but talking about it now is senseless," Queiroz said. "The United States reached the last 16, and this will not change anything. Life will go on and there are other matches to come."