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The U.S. men’s national team beat Iran 1-0 in a politically charged World Cup match Tuesday at Al Thumama Stadium in Qatar, scoring on a spectacular kick from Christian Pulisic. Unfortunately, the midfielder collided with Iran’s goalie during the play, leaving himself injured and in noticeable pain. He was able to continue the game, but sat out the second half with an abdominal injury and was taken to the hospital for scans.
The win means the team finished second in Group B and will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament for a last-16 matchup against the Netherlands. Iran is officially done.
The United States came out aggressively, posting a lot of shots, but couldn’t find a way to score until the 38th minute when Weston McKennie looped a perfect high pass over the defense to a streaking Sergino Dest. Dest headed the ball toward the net where Pusilic made a sick kick to pop in the goal.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 29, 2022
Pusilic’s goal served as a redemption of sorts, according to the NY Post:
Pulisic has dreamed of this World Cup opportunity since he broke out as a teenager and then became the face of American soccer. Since he shouldered much of the blame for the USMNT not qualifying in 2018. Since he carried the Americans back to this year’s World Cup.
The game was played against the backdrop of months-long protests in Iran resulting from the September death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin who perished in an Iranian prison three days after being hauled in for not wearing her headscarf properly. There were reportedly signs that she’d been beaten.
A little over a week ago, the Iranian team refused to sing their national anthem before a match with the Brits. It was reported Monday that the Islamic Republic had threatened the families of players with imprisonment and torture if the players “misbehaved” before the U.S. game.
On Monday, Iranian reporters grilled America’s coach and the team captain over racism and politics. They tried to embarrass the U.S., but mostly just embarrassed themselves.
Despite brutal crackdowns by Iran’s leadership, protests continue. Many even seemed to celebrate America’s win:
— Saman Arbabi (@SamanArbabi) November 29, 2022
While I’m not the world’s biggest soccer fan (I pretend to be sometimes because my son loves “The Beautiful Game”), I’m thrilled by this win. A) we move on in the tournament, and B) we stick it to our enemy. Not the people, mind you—nor the brave players—but the murderous mullahs who run the place.
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