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Iran vs. USA: Final score, highlights and reactions

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Ream: USMNT's motivation knockout spot, not Iran controversy (1:58)

Sam Borden updates with the latest from the USMNT camp in Qatar, ahead of their crunch match with Iran. (1:58)

It was very simple for the United States on Tuesday against Iran in the 2022 World Cup. Win, or go home. Mission accomplished for the Americans.

Three of the four teams in Group B -- the US, England and Iran -- were still alive for two spots in the round of 16. The scenarios are straightforward. England cruised to a 3-0 win over Wales, making the Three Lions the winner of Group B. With a gritty 1-0 win over Iran, the US will also move on to the knockout stage.

The Americans will now face the Netherlands on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.

Read more: How every team can reach the round of 16

Here are the biggest moments and top plays from the final day in Group B play.

Full-time: Iran 0, USA 1

The full-time whistle blows at Al Thumama Stadium, and the US have held on for a nervy, narrow 1-0 win over Iran. The Iranian bench were desperate for a penalty to be called on Carter-Vickers, but the referees again denied their claims, and that was as close as the USMNT came to conceding in this game's final moments.


Second half

Nine minutes of stoppage time. How much has this game changed in the second half? Remember in the early exchanges of this contest when the US were doubling up Iran in possession? That figure has been narrowed to 53%-47% in the Americans' favor.

85th minute: Iran appealed for a handball against Moore, his first action in the game. The ball did strike the hand of the Nashville SC defender, but his hand was tucked tight against his body, and the referees didn't award a penalty.

After those subs, the US are now operating with a back five, featuring three center backs in Ream, Zimmerman and Carter-Vickers, with Robinson and Moore serving as wing-backs. The Americans really bracing to keep Iran at bay now in these closing few minutes.

84th minute: More subs from the Americans, their final two, as Berhalter looks to shore up his defense, with center back Zimmerman and right-back Shaq Moore coming on for Weah and Dest, respectively.

77th minute: Some worry here for the USMNT, as Sargent takes a very awkward fall, which looked hard on the Norwich City striker's right knee but it's his right ankle that the physios are treating right now. He can't continue, and Berhalter drafts in Haji Wright, who started against England, to replace Sargent.

67th minute: Weston McKennie's night is now done, with Kellyn Acosta subbing on to take the Juventus midfielder's place in the US engine room. McKennie's fitness has been a topic of conversation throughout this World Cup, having recovered just from a quadriceps injury just in time to start the opener against Wales, although he hasn't played a full 90 minutes yet in Qatar.

58th minute: Pulisic wasn't able to continue after that collision with the Iranian keeper, and was substituted at the half with what Berhalter called an "abdominal" injury. Leeds United playmaker Brenden Aaronson has taken his place.

The first few minutes of this second half have been a stark contrast to what unfolded in the opening 45. Very open, very end-to-end, with both sides having opportunities, and Iran registering their first shot.


Half-time: Iran 0, USA 1

At the half, the US lead 1-0 thanks to Pulisic's goal. The Chelsea attacker returned to the pitch after spending several minutes receiving treatment, but his movements look on the labored side.

And as it stands, the USA are on course to make the round of 16, setting up a clash with Group A winners, the Netherlands. Of course, that depends on the Americans holding on to this lead. If Iran can find an equalizer, we'll be right back to square one, with the US on the outside looking in.

Throughout the first half, the US had more of the ball and the better of the chances. Not only have they been the better team in the attacking third, but they also haven't conceded a single shot, either. Their lead is deserved.

And the final minutes of the first half perhaps offered a glimpse of what's to come in the next 45 minutes. With Iran needing that equalizer to make it out of this group, they've had to be more adventurous in committing players forward, presenting Tim Weah with a pair of particularly tasty counterattacking opportunities that just didn't come off -- in fact, the second one ended up in the back of the net, only for the Lille forward to be ruled fractionally offside.

First half

US strike first

There's a goal for the USA! And in keeping with the theme of the first 40 or so minutes of this first half, it comes from Dest heading a ball across the 6-yard box for Christian Pulisic to tap home.

It has come at a cost, though. Pulisic was on the ground receiving treatment for several minutes, after he collided heavily with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, and he was still having difficulty as the half progressed.

28th minute: Dest and Robinson have featured prominently in the Americans' attack so far, and the opportunities are piling up. However, their willingness to get forward has given Iran the invitation to break into space left behind by the defenders, and the Iranians had one threatening counterattack to show for it. It's the US, though, who are firmly in control through the first half-hour -- but, crucially, have nothing to show for it.

18th minute: The US are beginning to poke and prod the Iranian defense, searching for vulnerabilities, and those vulnerabilities appear to be in wide areas. Full-backs Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest have each swung in dangerous crosses, Christian Pulisic had a headed attempt worth 0.09 xG, but there has been no breakthrough yet -- even if the Americans' knock on the door is getting increasingly more forceful.

9th minute: The opening minutes of this game have been the usual feeling-out process, but the intensity is such that the game looks like it's being played at 1.5x speed. The Americans have a nearly 2-to-1 possession advantage, which comes as no surprise, but both teams have been full of direct, purposeful running.

That tension is reflected in the stands. The noise has been constant so far.


Pregame breakdown

Set aside the off-the-field controversies that have steadily built between these two teams throughout this tournament. The stakes of this game -- win and you're in -- create plenty of drama on their own, and for a US team that can't even afford a draw, the mountain they have to climb might be looking increasingly steep as they walk out of the tunnel at Al Thumama Stadium.

Let's start with the selection because it's both unsurprising and simultaneously head-scratching. The starting XI for the US is largely unchanged from the first two games, with one exception.

Josh Sargent returns to the starting lineup, despite a largely ineffective 81 minutes split between games against Wales and England. Haji Wright made even less of an impact in his start vs. the Three Lions, so a change up top wasn't unexpected, but to return to Sargent -- when coach Gregg Berhalter had consistently selected Jesus Ferreira throughout this cycle -- is a curious choice.

The most jarring decision comes at the back, where Cameron Carter-Vickers slots into the heart of the defense alongside Tim Ream, at the expense of Walker Zimmerman. Zimmerman did concede the penalty converted by Gareth Bale to earn Wales a draw in that opening game of the Americans' tournament, but apart from that, the two-time MLS Defender of the Year has been very solid in a back line that's arguably been this team's bright spot in Qatar. Carter-Vickers and Ream have never played together, and the Celtic center-back has only appeared for the USMNT three times in 2022 (in the Nations League against El Salvador and Grenada, and a friendly vs. Morocco).

Oh, and the crowd inside Al Thumama Stadium are decidedly pro-Iran, at least based off the noise made when the teams took to the pitch for warmups.

There's no room for error for the Americans. Has Berhalter already made one in discarding Zimmerman?


Lineups

Presidential support

Fans show up

Growing controversy

After a US Soccer Federation social media account briefly displayed Iran's flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, Iran's government reacted by accusing US Soccer of removing the name of God from their national flag, and the Iranian football federation said their country will lodge a complaint with FIFA. A report from The Associated Press said Iran was also threatening legal action.

The USSF said in a statement Sunday morning that it decided to forgo the official flag on social media accounts to show "support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights."

The posts were eventually taken down and the flag's emblem was restored. A US spokesperson said the USSF still supports the protesters in Iran, and US defender Walker Zimmerman emphasized that the team is focused on Tuesday but remains in support of women's rights.

"I think it's such a focused group on the task at hand, but at the same time we empathize, and we are firm believers in women's rights and support them," Zimmerman said.