With a painful goal, Christian Pulisic led the USA in the controversial group final against Iran to the round of 16.

The former Borussia Dortmund professional scored the acclaimed winning goal on Tuesday (38th minute) to make it 1-0 (1-0) in a politically charged duel that attracted a great deal of attention from the global public.

The USA, runners-up in their group, meet the Netherlands in the round of 16 on Saturday, who won their group after beating tournament hosts Qatar 2-0.

24 years after Iran's 2-1 victory at the 1998 World Cup, the Americans celebrated a prestigious victory after a dramatic finale.

After missing out on the World Cup in Russia four years ago, the USA are back in the knockout stages, as they were at Brazil 2014.

Pulisic threw himself into the ball after a beautiful combination over Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest in the scene of the day, colliding with Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand in the process.

Five minutes later, the 24-year-old limped onto the pitch of al-Tuhmama Stadium again in front of 42,127 spectators.

After the break, however, he was unable to continue due to a stomach injury.

Iran's players sing the anthem

The Chelsea pro's energetic shot on goal was emblematic of the passion with which the two rivals tackled a fast-paced knockout game.

There had already been a lot of trouble in the days before the important group duel, which was very intense from the start.

On the one hand, the incomplete depiction of the Iranian flag by the US association or ambiguous statements by the former US national coach Jürgen Klinsmann caused resentment.

On the other hand, national coach Gregg Berhalter and his captain Tyler Adams had to put up with provocative questions at the pre-game press conference.

On the field, despite the overwhelming importance of the game, the focus was on the sport due to the serious political differences between the US and Iran - as desired by Berhalter and his Iranian counterpart Carlos Queiroz.

His selection for the two-time tournament goalscorer Mehdi Taremi, despite the frenetic cheering by shouts, drums and horns from the vast majority of Iranian fans, struggled against the more structured and calm Americans for a long time, but turned up the heat after the break.

In the midst of the worst protests in Iran for decades, however, the great importance of the game was always present;

it started with the anthem.

After the internationals had not sung along before the 6-2 draw against England at the start of the World Cup, they now joined in as they did in the game against Wales.

Iranian activists had interpreted the silence before the England game as a gesture of support for the nationwide protests in the country.

As a result, threats of government sanctions were reported.

The team around midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi, who ran onto the field with outstretched arms towards the sky and then put his hands in front of his face, fought against the World Cup with a lot of dedication.

Not much was missing, and Saman Ghoddos, who came on for the ineffective Leverkusen Sardar Azmoun, would have headed in to equalize (52').

Ezatolahi also sniffed the 1-1 with his shot (70th).

The throng of Iranian fans in green, white and red didn't give up in their vociferous support from the stands - neither did the team on the pitch.

The football-crazy country, in which Parvis Borumand became known on Tuesday after the release of national player Voria Ghafouri, but in the end shared the fever in vain.