World CupHighlights: A Big Win for Iran and a Safe Draw for Netherlands and Ecuador

Follow live coverage of the World Cup and the latest standings and scores.

Rory Smith
Nov. 25, 2022, 4:10 p.m. ET

Draw with England leaves U.S. hopes in the balance.

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Credit...Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

In one sense, the United States’ 0-0 result against England leaves the Americans’ hopes of reaching the last 16 — presumably what Gregg Berhalter and his employers at U.S. Soccer would regard as a sort of par performance — in the balance.

It’s a pretty simple equation: the U.S. needs to win to qualify. Iran, its last opponent, might sneak through with a tie, as long as Wales don’t beat England. But in another, that’s a hugely encouraging step. Berhalter’s team outplayed England for periods of that game; his players demonstrated a poise and a composure, as well as a doggedness and discipline, that he will see as vindication of a lot of his work.

Nov. 25, 2022, 2:47 p.m. ET

Neymar, Brazil’s star player, out with an injury after Serbia match.

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The Brazilian star forward, Neymar, was injured during the Group G match between Brazil and Serbia on Thursday.Credit...Lars Baron/Getty Images

Neymar, the Brazilian soccer star, will not be playing in the team’s next World Cup match after he was injured on Thursday while playing against Serbia.

Neymar injured a lateral ligament on his right ankle and has small bone swelling, said Rodrigo Lasmar, the team’s doctor, in a written statement on Neymar’s website. Another player, Danilo, injured his left ankle and also will not play in the next game, which will be on Monday against Switzerland, the statement said.

“I can say in advance that we will not have both players for the next match, but they remain in treatment with the objective of trying to recover them in time for this competition,” Lasmar said.

Both players received treatment after the match and were re-evaluated on Friday morning, with scheduled daily follow-ups planned. Neymar’s ankle was visibly swollen as he walked off the field on Thursday.

Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 in its first match of the 2022 World Cup. After Switzerland, the team will play Cameroon on Friday.

“Tough game, but it was important to win,” Neymar said on Twitter on Thursday. “Congratulations team, first step taken.”

Thursday’s injury was one of the hardest moments of his career, Neymar said on his Facebook page. In the 2014 World Cup, he broke a vertebra after being kneed in the back and was sidelined for the rest of the tournament.

“Yes, I’m injured, it’s frustrating, it’s going to hurt,” he said in the Facebook post. “But I’m sure that I will have a chance to return because I will do whatever possible to help my country, my teammates and myself.”

Rory Smith
Nov. 25, 2022, 12:53 p.m. ET

England vs. U.S.: a very special relationship.

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Credit...Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Slowly, and only moderately grudgingly, England is learning to take the United States seriously. In 2009, when the draw for the men’s World Cup group phase placed the teams in the same pool, there was barely-concealed glee on the side of the Atlantic with edible cheese. “EASY,” as one tabloid put it.

The fact that it did not turn out that way — the game ended, as you may be dimly aware, as what one side called a draw and the other a tie — probably had some influence in changing the perception of the U.S. team, though far more significant has been the steady stream of American players arriving in the Premier League.

The nature of those players is important, too. America has always produced reliable goalkeepers for Europe. It has traditionally been able to churn out doughty central defenders and industrious wide players, too, as well as the occasional striker like Brian McBride. Only in recent years, though, has it managed to add a little sparkle to its output: Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson.

England, as a nation, will expect to beat the Americans in Qatar — as it should — but it will do so for the right reasons: not out of an outdated disdain for an opponent it regards as an arriviste, but out of an awareness of its own strengths. England is a genuine contender to win this tournament. It says a lot about the United States that it will be taken very seriously indeed.

James Wagner
Nov. 25, 2022, 10:47 a.m. ET

Netherlands 1, Ecuador 1: Both teams are still comfortable in Group A.

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Credit...Carl Recine/Reuters

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Netherlands

Group A

Final

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Ecuador

The two teams atop Group A entering Friday remained there after a 1-1 draw between the Netherlands and Ecuador at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan. The result gave each team 1 point, keeping them tied for first place with 4 points.

Ecuador, which won the fourth and final qualifying spot out of South America, has proven to be a tough opponent at the 2022 World Cup. Its next match — against Senegal, which has 3 points after defeating Qatar earlier on Friday — will be critical in determining who moves on to the knockout stage. The Netherlands will have an easier path: they next take on winless host Qatar, which was officially eliminated from advancing on Friday.

Despite the strong showing, Ecuador walked off the field on Friday with a lingering concern. Its captain and the World Cup’s leading scorer Enner Valencia was carried off the field in the 87th minute with a right leg injury. He added his third goal of the tournament on Friday, in the 49th minute against the Netherlands. It was the culmination of repeated pressure by Ecuador against the Netherlands.

After a save from Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert, Valencia chipped in a rebound and tied the score. Soon after, Gonzalo Plata rattled the crossbar with a rocket off his left foot. It was a reversal from earlier, when the Netherlands jumped out to an early lead and Ecuador lamented a disallowed goal that would have tied the score.

In the last minute of stoppage time in the first half, Pervis Estupiñán kicked a deflection into the net. But after a VAR check, the goal was disallowed because Ecuador was deemed offside. Its player protested, even after the final whistle after the first half.

The Dutch scored first, with winger Cody Gakpo, whose stock has been rising this World Cup with strong performances, firing a blazing shot past Ecuador goalkeeper Hernán Galíndez in the 6th minute. It was the quickest goal in the tournament so far.

Daniel Victor
Nov. 25, 2022, 10:27 a.m. ET

How can the United States advance? Here are the scenarios.

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Credit...Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales on Friday lifted one team, damaged another and brought more clarity to what the United States must do to advance out of Group B.

The United States and England meet in Friday’s late game. On Tuesday, in the final games of the group stage, England will play Wales, while the United States will play Iran.

Only two of the four teams can advance. If teams finish tied on points in the group standings, the first tiebreaker is goal differential — the difference between goals scored and goals allowed in the three group games. The second tiebreaker is goals scored. It gets extra complicated after that.

Here’s a look at what the United States needs to do to advance to the Round of 16.

If the United States beats England:

The standings would be: United States 4, England and Iran 3, Wales 1.

The Americans would advance with a win or a draw against Iran.

If the United States loses to Iran, it would be eliminated if England beats Wales. If Wales beats or draws England, the group would come down to tiebreakers.

If the United States ties England:

The standings would be: England 4, Iran 3, United States 2, Wales 1.

The Americans would advance with a win against Iran. They would be eliminated by a draw or a loss.

If the United States loses to England:

The standings would be: England 6, Iran 3, United States and Wales 1.

If the United States then beats Iran, it would advance if England beats or draws Wales. If Wales wins, the group would come down to tiebreakers.

The Americans would be eliminated with a draw or loss against Iran.

Victor Mather
Nov. 25, 2022, 7:31 a.m. ET

For Qatar, a moment of joy, and then a crushing defeat.

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Credit...Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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Qatar

Group A

Final

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Senegal

Showcasing the country to the world while getting some good public relations were among the reasons Qatar sought to host the World Cup, but turning its men’s national team into a competitive side was also on the list.

But now the host country is out of the World Cup after just two games. A 3-1 loss to Senegal on Friday all but knocked Qatar out, and a 1-1 draw between the Netherlands and Ecuador later in the day eliminated the tiny mathematical chance it had left.

Though Qatar has one more game against the Netherlands on Tuesday, nothing it does in that game will allow it to advance to the next round.

Qatar and Senegal had both lost their first games, so were desperate for a win on Friday.

Senegal controlled the early part of the game, moving the ball fluidly while Qatar tried to score primarily on the counter. Qatar’s best early opportunity was a penalty appeal. Its star, Akram Afif, fell in the box on a break in the 35th minute, and it looked like a possible penalty. But the referee had the teams play on.

Senegal was rewarded for its aggression with the first goal when Qatar defender Boualem Khoukhi badly bungled a clearance, the ball going nowhere. That gave Boulaye Dia a chance to sweep in and poach a fairly easy goal in the 41st minute.

Famara Diedhiou made it 2-0 with a rocket header straight off a corner from Ismail Jakobs in the 48th minute.

In a hole, Qatar was forced to change its style and attack, and it gained some hope when Mohammed Muntari leaped high and met a cross from Ismail Mohamad with his head for a goal in the 78th minute that cut Senegal’s lead to 2-1. It was the host’s first goal of this tournament, its debut at a World Cup.

But Bamba Dieng clinched it for Senegal in the 84th minute with a shot that wrong-footed Qatar keeper Meshaal Barsham.

While Qatar was not a favorite for the Cup by any means, some solid results against Asian teams had fans hopeful of a good performance on home turf. But Qatar was comprehensively outplayed by Ecuador in the tournament’s opening game, losing 2-0, and Friday’s loss puts it not just on the brink of elimination, but hanging by its fingertips there.

Though Qatar is out, Senegal helped its own chances significantly. It had hung with the Netherlands in its first match before conceding two late goals and losing. With its victory on Friday, the first for an African team at this World Cup, Senegal put itself in position to advance to the knockout stages, with its final game against Ecuador pivotal.

Victor Mather
Nov. 25, 2022, 6:41 a.m. ET

Who will win the World Cup? There’s really only one place to ask.

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Credit...Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Who’s going to win the World Cup? To get an answer, you could seek the opinion of coaches, players, pundits or fans.

Or you could ask the people who have a great financial stake in the outcome: bookmakers.

With every team having played one game, the most likely team to win the World Cup this year is, as almost every year, Brazil, according to oddsmakers around the world. But it is far from a sure thing. The team’s odds are roughly 3-1, meaning at best it has about a 25 percent chance of lifting the trophy at this point.

Also considered strong contenders are France (6-1) and England and Spain (both 7-1). The next leading contender is, somewhat surprisingly, Argentina at 8-1, even though it lost its opening game to Saudi Arabia. The consensus seems to be that it will bounce back against Mexico and Poland and make it to the knockout rounds. On the other hand, Argentina was originally the second favorite at 5-1, so it certainly has slipped.

As you might have noticed, the favorites are the usual suspects.

The truth is, long shots just don’t win the World Cup very often. Oh, they sometimes make a surprise run to the semifinals (South Korea in 2002) or even the final (Croatia in 2018) but they just don’t win it.

So if you truly believe in, say, the United States (150-1) or even Costa Rica (as much as 3,000-1 after losing to Spain, 7-0), you could be richly rewarded if they defy the odds come the final on Dec. 18.

There are odds available on the individual awards as well, giving a clue as to who bettors and bookies think will perform well the rest of the way at the tournament.

Before the World Cup began, who else but Lionel Messi (7-1) was the favorite for the Golden Ball as player of the tournament, an award he won eight years ago. But after Argentina’s stutter, he has slipped behind Kylian Mbappé of France (6-1).

That prize almost always goes to a player on a successful team, but not necessarily the winning one. The last two Golden Balls went to players on the runner-up (Luka Modrić of Croatia and Messi), and the winner before that, Diego Forlán of Uruguay, made only the semifinal.

The final game on Thursday significantly shook up the betting for the Golden Boot for the top goal-scorer of the tournament. Richarlíson of Brazil had been a 25-1 shot before the tournament started, but his two goals against Serbia has made him a favorite at 8-1. The other top contenders are Mbappé (9-1, with one goal so far), Olivier Giroud of France (11-1, two goals) and Messi (13-1, one goal).

The other players with two goals so far aren’t attracting as much interest from bettors: Ferran Torres of Spain (20-1), Bukayo Saka of England (20-1), Enner Valencia of Ecuador (50-1) and Mehdi Taremi of Iran (such a long shot that few bookies have even posted a price on him yet).

Fancy an American to get a bootload of goals? Timothy Weah, who had the Americans’ only goal in their first game, is 300-1 or more to finish as the tournament’s top scorer.

John Branch
Nov. 25, 2022, 5:04 a.m. ET

Iran’s anthem was a tense moment for players and fans alike.

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Credit...Amanda Perobelli/Reuters

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Iran’s national anthem was met by halfhearted singing or mouthing of the words by players and the jeering whistles of thousands of fans at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium before the team played Wales on Friday in its second game at the World Cup.

The scene, and the sounds, was different from Iran’s opener against England on Monday, when players gave the anthem the stoic silent treatment, a form of protest that got global attention. Iran’s team, a regular at the tournament and long a unifying force in a divided country, has for months been trying to navigate the delicate internal politics of Iran, caught between government expectations and an ongoing national uprising.

Before Friday’s match against Wales, the stadium camera feeds showed a man sobbing as Iran’s anthem was played. When an emotional woman was shown, fans erupted in cheers. Elsewhere, others booed. In the seats, a woman unveiled a No. 22 jersey with the name Mahsa Amini on it. She was the 22-year-old who died while in police custody in September, sparking a growing movement of discontent about freedoms and women’s rights under Iran’s theocratic rule.

It was the actions of Iran’s players, though, that attracted the most attention. After standing silently during the anthem before their first game, they appeared to sing with varying degrees of commitment amid a mix of boos and cheers.

Iran’s fan base may be as incessantly noisy as any here at the World Cup. That was true before the game, as its fans and those arriving to cheer Wales emerged from the metro and spilled out toward Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. One woman coming off the metro started a chant — “Say her name! Mahsa! Amini!” — that has become common here. Others wore blue T-shirts that read, “Woman Life Freedom.” One man wore a shirt that read, “Arrest of Lawyers = Beginning of Your End” in English on the front and Arabic on the back.

World Cup security officers have been trained to look for such political displays. Before Monday’s game against England, fans were told they wee not allowed to bring or display Iran’s pre-revolutionary flag inside the stadium. Outside the arena on Friday, grim-faced officers patrolled in packs of five or six, wearing black-and-blue vests that read “security cells” on the back. A group of 10 officers surrounded one woman, argued with her and took something from her, perhaps a shirt.

Freed and frustrated, she disappeared into the stadium.

John Branch
Nov. 25, 2022, 4:23 a.m. ET

Iran stuns short-handed Wales with two late goals.

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Credit...Hannah Mckay/Reuters

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Wales

Group B

Final

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar — The cheering stopped only for the national anthem, and when it reached its peak, an eternity into stoppage time, it could be heard and felt across the Persian Gulf, if not around the globe.

Iran, a country mired in deadly protests and a soccer team making a striking statement, celebrated a 2-0 victory over Wales that could not have been scripted any better for drama.

There was the incessant noise from fans at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, a building sense of confidence on the field and, in the end — beyond the end, deep into injury time — a percussive strike of a goal from Roozbeh Cheshmi.

Then came another before the crowd had a collective moment to catch its breath, a deft floater from Ramin Rezaeian, just before the referee whistled the match over.

Players collapsed. Fans leaped. A few wept in joy, but most bounced in elation and carried the feeling out of the stadium, back into Doha and beyond, toward a vital game with the United States on Tuesday that could decide which team advances to the round of 16.

The United States, which tied Wales to open the tournament, was set to play England, the leader in Group B, later on Friday night local time.

The game began with a dark pretext. Since September, Iran has been roiled by protests following the death of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini while she was in police custody. She had been arrested by the morality police for not adhering to Iran’s hijab law, which mandates head coverings for women.

In Qatar, across the Gulf from their home country, Iran’s fans have made their displeasure clear. The national anthem was met with jeers from many on Friday. A woman raised a No. 22 jersey with Amini’s name. Men and women cried.

The players lined up on the field halfheartedly mouthed the words, a change from the opener against England earlier in the week when they gave the anthem the silent treatment, a form of protest that drew global attention.

Beyond the backdrop of that unease about the future of the country, Iran’s fan base — which may be as incessantly noisy as any here at the World Cup — exuded nothing but solidarity, sharing the stadium with the vocal “red wave” of Welsh fans.

“It was 90 minutes of joy, peace, happiness and joy,” Iran’s manager, Carlos Queiroz, said.

It was longer than that. A taut and scoreless match, tipping toward Iran in the second half, turned in the 86th minute. Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was given a red card after charging a ball well outside the box and taking down an Iranian player when he got to it; his ejection left Wales a man down and with a backup goalkeeper, Danny Ward.

At that point, Wales hoped to squeeze out a tie. But Iran’s attack had been buzzing, brimming with confidence, unshaken by a string of missed opportunities, including balls that hit both goal posts about 30 seconds apart. A goal was a matter of time, if there was enough of it.

“They posed a constant threat,” Wales Manager Rob Page said, without a note of bitterness toward the red-card call. “We just could not get going in the game.”

The ticking clock became Iran’s prime opponent in injury time. Eight minutes in, though, Cheshmi intercepted a poor clearing attempt by Wales and, about 10 yards outside the penalty area, lined up a shot. His skidding scorcher just got past the substitute keeper’s diving reach.

Iran’s players poured onto the field. Fans turned their steady chants into uncontrolled cheers. The game felt over. It was, at least in spirit, if not in time. Soon, Rezaeian took a pass at about the point where Cheshmi had just scored. He took a couple of dribbles to draw a defender and the keeper, and eased a shot past them.

It was a second exclamation point for Iran and all its fans.

“North, south, east, west, it’s a gift to all of them,” Queiroz said.

Iran had come to the tournament the ultimate unknown — a solid team, but one facing the uncertain effect of the turmoil at home. The Iranians’ 6-2 loss to England on Monday was an embarrassment, and Queiroz tried to protect his players from the politics. He confronted a BBC reporter after a news conference, having grown tired of his team's having to address questions about the protests.

He would like to think that Iran, now, is back to simply playing soccer, with a defining game against the United States ahead.

But the story line is far more complex than that. It could be seen on the wrenched faces of those crying during the anthem or cheering the goals.

It could be seen on the T-shirts, like those sprinkled in the crowd that read “Woman Life Freedom,” but nowhere more than on the jersey that bore Amini’s name and age when she died.

It could be heard in the growing chants, heard around Doha, from the metro to the stadium plazas: “Say her name! Mahsa! Amini!” And it could be heard in the way people jeered the national anthem and, more than anything, exploded with joy at the mere sight of a ball going into a net.

Rory Smith
Nov. 25, 2022, 4:17 a.m. ET

How to watch today’s World Cup games.

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Credit...Abbie Parr/Associated Press
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Credit...Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Wales vs. Iran

How to watch: 5 a.m. Eastern. FS1, Telemundo, Peacock.

For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the One Love armbands that have been banned by FIFA, and for all the praise lavished on Germany for its subsequent protest, the courage of Iran’s players in refusing to sing their national anthem did not receive the attention it warranted.

The country’s players are caught in an unenviable bind. Regardless of results, they have emerged from this tournament with credit.

Qatar vs. Senegal

How to watch: 8 a.m. Eastern. FS1, Telemundo, Peacock.

Things do not get any easier for the host nation. Swatted aside by Ecuador in the opener — that seems a long time ago, doesn’t it? — Qatar’s next task is trying to avoid emptying the stadium early against Senegal. The latter, the reigning African champion, will know qualification might come down to goal difference, so expect it to come out shooting.

Netherlands vs. Ecuador

How to watch: 11 a.m. Eastern. Fox, Telemundo, Peacock.

The Dutch slipped under the radar a little in the first week. Their opening victory against Senegal did not catch the eye as much as the wins recorded by England, France and Spain.

Given the relative strength of their opponent (Senegal), though, it was a steady, stately sort of a performance, the sort that augurs well for the next few weeks.

England vs. United States

How to watch: 2 p.m. Eastern. Fox, Telemundo, Peacock.

England, as a nation, will expect to beat the Americans in Qatar — as it should — but it will do so for the right reasons: not out of an outdated disdain for an opponent it regards as an arriviste, but out of an awareness of its own strengths. England is a genuine contender to win this tournament. It says a lot about the United States that it will be taken very seriously indeed.