Christian Pulisic was substituted at half-time after scoring the winning goal for the United States against Iran in their Group B final in Qatar on Tuesday.
The Chelsea winger was involved in a hard collision with Iran keeper Alireza Beiranvand shortly before half-time as he tapped in a headed cross from Sergino Dest to put the US up 1-0 — a goal would that be enough to earn the Americans the win and second spot in the group.
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Pulisic lay on the ground in the goalmouth for a few minutes before leaving the field and receiving attention from the team’s trainers before coming back on and finishing the first half.
Brenden Aaronson came on for Pulisic after half-time, with a US Soccer spokesperson telling ESPN after the match that he was taken to the hospital for scans on an abdominal injury.
« Obviously we’re very thankful that he threw his body there, » said Pulisic’s teammate Weston McKennie after the match. « At the end it was a heart-drop sinking moment, but we got it done and we’re excited to still be here. »
US coach Gregg Berhalter praised Pulisic’s hard work and toughness after the match.
« It’s a wonderful thing when one of your best players is also one of the most hard working, » Berhalter said. « He’s certainly that. I can’t say enough positive things about Christian. »
US captain Tyler Adams said he was praying for his teammate and said it’s goals like these he’s come to expect from Pulisic.
« How many goals has he scored like that in his career? Back post arriving, he’s brilliant, » Adams said. « The way that his timing is into the box and to get in front of that ball — he’ll do anything to this team in order for us to win.
« Huge player for us, obviously. Praying for him, hoping everything is OK. He’ll hang in there. I know he’ll do anything to play in the next game. »
Josh Sargent was replaced by Haji Wright in the 75th minute after landing awkwardly on his right foot while avoiding a tackle. Like Pulisic, he also received treatment on the field but was able to walk off the field.
The US saw out nine minutes of second-half stoppage time and a penalty shout from Iran late in the game to win their first game at a World Cup since 2014 and set up a round-of-16 match against Netherlands on Saturday.