The most politically charged match of the World Cup kicked off at Al Thumama stadium on Tuesday to electrifying energy in the stands.
As expected, both Iran and the USA kicked off with bravado, with the ball finding itself in both penalty boxes several times before the clock hit 10 minutes.
At 16 minutes, the Americans had a a strike at goal, but were quickly blocked by the Iranian number 1.
The highly anticipated match saw drums, cheers and chants of “Iran” ring across the stadium, with Team Melli’s army dominating the stands.
Iran steadily entered American territory at 19 minutes in a calculated attack that was quickly rejected.
USA takes the lead
Anticipation in the crowds was clearly translated on the pitch, where energetic players pounded strikes at their respective goals. The USA’s Pulisic finally tapped a ball that put his team in front.
With half time looming closer, the Americans continued to push through a defiant Iranian defence. While a blue shirt managed to slip by and find the back of the net, the yellow and orange flag was quickly raised.
The second half kicked off with the same energy, both on the pitch and in the crowds. It’s clear this was more than just football.
At 52 minutes, Iran’s Ghoddos had an opportunity, but fumbles at the last hurdle.
An American corner kick moments later lands a close to the other end of the goal, though this one finds the feet of a blue shirt.
On the other side of the pitch, an offside flag brought an Iranian break to a halt. In the early part of the second half, the USA team’s box saw little action.
In the 66th minute, Ghoddos had yet another go at goal, though curled it wide of the post and into the crowd.
A USA free kick in the 68th minute triggers jeers and gasps in the stands, but goes a little too far north of the bar.
The game picked up for Iran in the last 10 minutes, with a foul as well as a call for a penalty that goes amiss. The US maintained a defensive strategy and held back on pressing at goal.
Iran kicked it up a notch, though clumsy crosses find no results. A tense Iranian crowd stood on their feet as the clock neared 90.
Iran flipped a carpenter cross that could’ve changed their fate at the World Cup.
Team Melli was given another boost of confidence, as 9 minutes of extra time were added to the clock.
The stadium erupted in the iconic Icelandic thunder clap as Iran prepared to take a free kick just outside of the American box. The ball connects with a header that goes just wide of the post.
Tensions rose between the two when USA’s number 4 was accused of time wasting by withholding the ball from a throw in. Moments later, an Iranian drags down his opponent to receive a yellow card.
Drama broke out in the box as desperate Iranian calls for a a penalty are dismissed.
The whistle was blown with a 1-0 win for the USA, who eliminate Iran from the World Cup.