USA beat Iran 1-0 to progress, England thump Wales - RTHK
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USA beat Iran 1-0 to progress, England thump Wales

2022-11-30 HKT 07:40
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  • Christian Pulisic of the United States collides with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand after scoring in a 1-0 for the Americans at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. Photo: AP
    Christian Pulisic of the United States collides with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand after scoring in a 1-0 for the Americans at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. Photo: AP
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 had 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 scrutinised 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.

"The guys grinded, gave every single ounce and we are undefeated going into the next round," USA coach Gregg Berhalter said.

Iran substitute Saman Ghoddos wasted two clear scoring opportunities.

"The dream is over," Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said. "Unfortunately football always punishes the team that doesn't score."

Reflecting the fact that the game was about more than sport, US President Joe Biden had wrapped up a speech on the economy in Michigan, but returned to the stage to tell the crowd: "The US one, Iran zero! The game's over!"

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.

Manchester United forward Rashford then added his second goal of the night to ensure Wales' first involvement in a World Cup finals since 1958 ended in disappointment.

"This is what I play football for, the biggest moments, the best moments," Rashford said.

"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 face Senegal in the last 16 on Sunday. Senegal snatched the runner-up spot in Group A by beating Ecuador 2-1.

The US will face the Netherlands who finished top of Group A after beating Qatar 2-0.

Cody Gakpo netted his third goal of the tournament and Frenkie de Jong scored the other. (AFP)