On day 10 of the World Cup in Qatar, the much-anticipated showdown between the US and Iran saw the politics and controversy surrounding the match set aside as the two teams battled it out in a splendid display of football.
The US emerged victorious with a 1-0 score that sends them into the Round of 16 stage while the Iranians were eliminated after finishing third in Group B with three points.
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Old rival England thrashed neighbouring Wales with a 3-0 defeat that sent the Welsh team out of their first World Cup tournament finals since 1958, extending a dismal record that has not seen the Dragons defeat the Three Lions since 1984. Though the English goal tally was high on Tuesday, the Welsh had defended well in the first half much to the ire of the English attackers.
World Cup hosts Qatar suffered a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in a game that was described as barely causing the Dutch to break a sweat. Already eliminated from the tournament following a 3-1 loss to Senegal in their last game, the Qatari team ended their appearance at the tournament with another lacklustre performance.
And it was Senegal who also booked a place in the Round of 16 with a thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador, which saw the African team finish second in Group A with six points from their three matches and the South American side, with four points, exiting the tournament.
Here is a quick guide recapping all you need to know from day 10 – Tuesday, November 29 – of the Qatar World Cup 2022.
The United States team advanced to the World Cup’s Round of 16 on Tuesday by beating Iran 1-0 at Al Thumama Stadium, after Christian Pulisic headed the ball home in a Group B showdown, amid a cloud of controversy and decades of enmity between the two countries.
Pulisic’s 38th-minute goal proved enough for the US side to advance at the expense of their geopolitical rivals in an eagerly awaited rematch of their 1998 World Cup group stage meeting, which Iran had won 2-1.
Sergino Dest headed the ball into the path of the sprinting Pulisic, who swept it into the net, momentarily silencing the raucous Iranian supporters but crashing into the outstretched Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand in the process.
Pulisic was back on his feet after several minutes but he did not look comfortable and was replaced by Brenden Aaronson at the halftime break. He was later treated in hospital for an abdominal injury.
Iran only needed a point to advance but the US had largely restricted the Iranians to playing on the defence and with their win the US has finished two points behind Group B winners England to reach the last 16 for the fifth time since 1994.
“The dream is over with this result,” Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said after the game. “The US started the game much better than us, more quick with better control of the game.”
Two goals by England’s Marcus Rashford and another by Phil Foden saw the team defeat Wales 3-0, advancing the English side to the knockout stage of the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday. As the winner of Group B, England will now face Senegal in the next round on Sunday.
Rashford started the scoring for England with a free kick in the 50th minute and teammate Foden doubled the goal tally a minute later.
Rashford then scored England’s third goal when his shot went through the legs of Wales’s goalkeeper Danny Ward in the 68th minute.
Both Rashford and Foden had come on as substitutes in the opening game with Iran, and Rashford did so again in the match against the US. On Tuesday, England coach Gareth Southgate wisely opted to drop Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling to the bench and give Rashford and Foden a chance from the start.
Meanwhile, Wales captain Gareth Bale was forced off at halftime with an injury.
The Welsh, who needed a four-goal victory to reach the knockout phase, defended deeply and frustrated England in a subdued first half at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. But the Dragons caved in after the halftime break to England and at the final whistle, the Wales players looked crestfallen as their chance at the first World Cup for 64 years fizzled out.
England had seven shots on target to one for Wales, who are now eliminated from the tournament.
“Moments like this, this is what I play football for. The biggest moments, the best moments,” Rashford said after the game.
“It’s disappointing to go out but we will all walk out of that changing room with our heads held high proud of each other,” Bale said after the match.
Dutch star player Cody Gakpo scored this third goal at the World Cup 2022 as the Netherlands qualified for the last 16 as Group A winners with a 2-0 win over eliminated hosts Qatar on Tuesday.
Gakpo scored in the 26th minute followed by teammate Frenkie de Jong’s goal in the 49th minute to cruise past the hosts. Gakpo also had a second goal wiped out after it was determined he handled the ball.
Gakpo also scored in Netherland’s first two games against Ecuador and Senegal.
The Netherlands, a three-time runner-up at the World Cup, will next face the US for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Qatar, who were already eliminated from contention to advance to the next round after their 3-1 loss to Senegal, have not earned a point in this World Cup.
Only the second host country to fail at this stage of the tournament after South Africa in 2010, Qatar were the winners of the 2019 Asian Cup and had wanted to go out on a high on Tuesday, even though a positive result for the Dutch was never really in doubt.
“We have played against a great team. We hung on against them until 1-0. We are out but it was a great experience for my players,” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said after the match.
“We came here trying to compete and we managed to do that,” Sánchez said, adding that he was not sure about his future status with the team.
“One of the things about our national team is that we have a long-term plan that doesn’t depend on me or anyone else,” Sánchez said.
“We’re going to rest for a few days and we’re going to keep working and planning.”
The Netherlands, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, finished with seven points at the top of the group.
Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly’s second-half strike earned his team a 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Tuesday and sent the African team into the knockout phase of the World Cup for the second time ever.
Ecuador, who needed a draw to qualify for the last remaining 16, end up third in their group on four points after a game played to the relentless beat of the Senegal fans’ drums.
The African champions had taken the lead after a first-half penalty from Ismaila Sarr. But Ecuador’s Moises Caicedo evened the score when he was left unmarked after a corner kick in the 67th minute, bringing the teams to 1-1.
At 1-1, Ecuador would have advanced to the next round of the World Cup and Senegal was out. But it was not to be.
Koulibaly scored three minutes after Caicedo to push Senegal to 2-1 and through to the next round from Group A.
A free kick from Idrissa Gueye bounced off an opponent and came Koulibaly’s way. He threw out his right foot and hit it past Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez in the 70th minute.
It was a must-win match for the African champions, and they did not disappoint.
It was also the end of a strong campaign for Ecuador and their striker Enner Valencia, who had scored his team’s first three goals at this year’s World Cup and played against Senegal despite struggling with a bad knee strain.
Valencia was left consoling teammate Galindez, who was tearing up near the end of the game and could not hold back after the final whistle, crying on Valencia’s shoulder.
Senegal will play England in the Round of 16 on Sunday. The Netherlands, which won Group A, will face the US on Saturday.