The United States are in the Round of 16 of the World Cup – but will Christian Pulisic be with them when they face the Netherlands on Saturday?
While spinning Sergino Dest’s header, Pulisic collided with goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, suffering a blow to the abdomen, and was taken off at half-time.
United States coach Gregg Berhalter later confirmed that the striker – named player of the match, even after his early exit – had been taken to hospital “as a precaution” as he was feeling dizzy following his injury.
With the Netherlands next for the USA in the last 16, they will be hoping Pulisic is back in time, not least because he has contributed to both of their goals in the tournament so far.
“We then contacted him by Facetimer from the locker room and we could see him and he is in a good mood,” said Berhalter.
“I guess he had his phone with him and he had updates [on the game].”
“We deserve to be in this position”
Berhalter needed a victory for his side to qualify for the knockout stages, against opponents who would have qualified with a draw.
He put in a “determined” and “focused” performance as the United States dug in to maintain their slim lead.
“It was a tough proposition knowing that Iran could potentially only need a tie to qualify. It made the game a bit tricky,” Berhalter said.
“But I saw huge concentration. The end of the game is what I’m most proud of – it was extreme determination not to give in.”
Berhalter would not be drawn to questions about how far the United States could go, having reached the knockout stages for the third time in four World Cups.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of people watching. American journalists will tell you about the definition of this group and I think it’s starting to take shape,” he added.
“You see as unified [the players] are and how much energy they put into it and along the way there is some really good football.
“It’s a great opportunity, but it’s not something we’re going to think it’s an honor in. We deserve to be in the position we’re in and we want to continue.
“We don’t want to be home next Wednesday.”
“Bringing prestige to the shirt of Iran”
It was a turbulent tournament for Iran as a controversy dominated discussions off the pitch amid anti-government protests at home.
Head coach Carlos Queiroz, who tried to sideline political issues to reduce the pressure on his players, had to ponder exiting the group stage after two defeats in three games.
“Football always punishes the team that doesn’t score. The team that scored in the first half was deserved,” Queiroz said.
“We created chances that we didn’t score and we are punished by the result. A draw was the right result, but in football there is no such thing as fairness.
“I am very proud and honored to have the chance to coach the team and the players of Iran.”
In preparation for their last match against the United States, there were reports that the families of the Iranian team were threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players did not “behave”.
“We have heard several stories of threats that the players have received but having said that, what I can say is that thanks to their work, the players have gradually found their smiles,” said Queiroz.
“They understood who they were playing for and understood their mission. I’m very happy that they were able to give an answer on the pitch and bring prestige to their country’s shirt.”