The United States secured their spot in the knockout rounds of the World Cup in Qatar, emerging with a 1-0 win from a potentially explosive clash with Carlos Queiroz’s Iran at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha late on Tuesday to set up a last 16 meeting with the Netherlands on Saturday. Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic scored seven minutes before half-time in a game that lacked any of the enmity between the teams representing nations that have long goaded and confronted one another on the geopolitical stage. Instead, the Americans underlined their growing status within the global game with a performance that left Iran in their wake for much of the 90 minutes and underlined the promise of Greg Berhalter’s young, athletic outfit. Man runs onto World Cup field flying pride flag and wearing protest shirt After draws against Wales and England in their opening games, the US – one of the youngest squads in the competition – finished the group with five points and will take on the Dutch, while the Iranians nurse broken hearts after missing out again on a place in the knockout rounds. Team Melli were appearing at a sixth World Cup finals and, as in the previous five appearances, the country has failed to reach the knockout rounds, despite luring Queiroz back for a third World Cup finals in September and a final crack at the last 16. The countries had faced one another before at the World Cup, the game at Al Thumama Stadium a rerun of the meeting in Lyon’s Stade de Gerland in France in 1998 when the Iranians emerged 2-1 winners from a clash fraught with prematch political tensions. Twenty-four years ago neither nation progressed to the knockout rounds. In Qatar, much more was at stake, with Iran needing only to draw to advance while the Americans were looking for a win to go through for the first time since 2014. There were none of the niceties that punctuated the prematch ceremonies from the previous World Cup meeting, when the teams posed for photographs together and the Iranians handed bouquets of white flowers to the Americans. This was strictly business. Iran started brightly, with Saeid Ezatolahi to the fore in central midfield, but it was the US who had the first look at goal. Yunus Musah fired off target before Pulisic headed towards goal with an effort that caused Alireza Beiranvand – recalled after recovering from the concussion he suffered in the opener against England – few concerns. Sergino Dest threatened from his position at right back, the AC Milan defender fizzing over a low cross that prompted Beiranvand to take evasive action, palming the ball out of harm’s way. Timothy Weah shot high over the bar before the United States’ goal eventually came through the predictable avenue of Dest, who cleverly headed Musah’s diagonal ball from deep back across goal for Pulisic to side-foot past Beiranvand. The Chelsea forward’s opener forced Iran to come out of the defensive shell they had spent much of the preceding 38 minutes inhabiting and they almost conceded a second deep into injury time, Timothy Weah’s fine finish ruled out by a tight offside call. The Iranians desperately needed to shake up their team to harbour any hope of claiming the draw needed to advance and Queiroz replaced the ineffective Sardar Azmoun with Saman Ghoddos in an effort to invigorate his side. That move almost worked as the Brentford midfielder steered his header over Matt Turner’s crossbar seven minutes into the second half in an all-too-rare sortie into the American penalty area. Ghoddos was wayward again midway through the half as Ali Gholazadeh cut through the United States defence and Ezatolahi lashed his effort narrowly off target with the Iranians growing increasingly desperate to find the equaliser. Morteza Pouralighani flashed his late header the wrong side of Matt Turner’s right post in injury time and Taremi squeezed the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs before Walker Zimmerman hacked clear in a desperate finish as the Americans ultimately prevailed.