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World Cup Group B: Iran steals 3 points from 10-men Wales, alters USMNT’s path

Iran Wales USMNT World Cup
Iran’s Rouzbeh Cheshmi, center, celebrates scoring the opening goal with teammates during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Iran stole all three points late against Wales as a red card from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey allowed Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian to nab stoppage time goals to break a tense, scoreless draw to change the face of Group B and give the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) some clarity on what they’ll need to do to advance to the knockout stage.

Entering the headlining match of the Group B phase against England (2 p.m. ET, FOX) — which leads the foursome after a 6-2 opening-matchday win over Iran — the Americans are still in third place in the group, but now are facing a two-point deficit after the Iranian victory:

World Cup Group B standings (as of 7 am ET, Nov. 25)

Team Matches Played Points Goal Difference
England 1 3 +4
Iran 2 3 -2
USMNT 1 1 0
Wales 2 1 -2

It’s imperative that the United States manufacture some sort of result on Friday against England to make their path a bit easier.

An upset victory over England would move USMNT to the top of Group B with four points, though that wouldn’t do much to clinch them a spot in the knockout stage with one match left to play against Iran. They must finish in second place or better to advance to the Round of 16 at the World Cup. 

USMNT advancement scenarios if they beat England

  • If they draw to Iran: USMNT would advance on goal difference
  • If they defeat Iran: USMNT wins Group B
  • If they lose to Iran: Wales must defeat England

A draw to England would put them just one point behind Iran with the top of the group still in sight.

USMNT advancement scenarios if they draw to England

  • If they defeat Iran: USMNT would advance
  • If they draw Iran: Elimination
  • If they lose to Iran: Elimination

A loss to England on Friday would not doom the Stars and Stripes, but there would only be one way to get out of Group B.

USMNT advancement scenarios if they lose to England

  • USMNT MUST defeat Iran and England MUST defeat or hold Wales to a draw

While Wales dominated the second half against the United States in the Group B opener, it was overwhelmed by Iran on Friday morning

In the 52nd minute, Iran hit two posts in quick succession. On the counter-attack, Sardar Azmoun flew down the right wing and into the Welsh box where he should have scored, but clang his shot off the right post. It came out to Ali Gholizadeh, who cut onto his left and curled a chance past Hennessey, but off the post. 

Hennessey came up with a big save in the 73rd minute when he steered Saeid Ezatolahi’s long-range shot wide of the post.

Just 13 minutes later, Hennessey saw red when he crashed into Mehdi Taremi outside of the box when the Iranian star was played into the outskirts of the Welsh third with just one Welsh defender back. 

For more on Wales, Iran, and the World Cup, visit AMNY.com

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