With long-strained political relations between the two countries and ongoing civil unrest in Iran, talk of almost anything but football has dominated the build-up to Tuesday’s Group B clash.
However, once the game settled, the USA’s dominance was clear and Iran were lucky to only foul Pulisic’s goal on the break, with Timothy Weah having one disallowed.
Carlos Queiroz’s side at least scored after the break, but the USA held on for a narrow – albeit deserved – victory to set up a last-16 clash with Group A winners the Netherlands.
After an emotionally charged opening where both sides showed purpose, the US began probing with greater regularity.
Weah let Iran off the hook just before the half-hour mark, heading early – leading to an easy save – unaware he had time for the ball to drop.
But 10 minutes later, Pulisic gave Alirez Beiranvand no chance.
Sergino Dest headed Weston McKennie’s wonderful cross into the penalty area and Pulisic struck home after colliding with Beiranvand to finally put the Chelsea man out after the break.
Weah strayed just short of offside before scoring what he claimed was the USA’s second, and half-time substitute Saman Ghoddos almost capitalized when he headed over just after the break.
Iran enjoyed plenty of late pressure but their efforts failed to produce an equaliser, Morteza Pouraliganji heading agonizingly wide and Mehdi Taremi failing to convert from close range on the stroke of half-time.