Americans frustrate England again at a World Cup in 0-0 draw

AP photo by Lucao Bruno / U.S. player Antonee Robinson, right, and England's Bukayo Saka compete for the soccer ball during a World Cup match Friday at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar. The teams played to a scoreless draw as each earned a point in the Group B standings.

AL KHOR, Qatar — Loud jeers rang around Al Bayt Stadium. England's fans were not happy. The United States had frustrated them yet again at a World Cup.

That's three times and counting that the teams have met on soccer's biggest stage, and England is still waiting for its first win against the Americans after a 0-0 draw Friday.

Coach Gareth Southgate had reminded his players of that record beforehand, with the U.S. famously winning 1-0 in 1950 and playing out a 1-1 draw in 2010. They didn't seem to heed his warning and didn't respond to Gregg Berhalter's young and energetic team.

England beat Iran 6-2 in its opening game in Qatar to justify its status as one of the tournament favorites, but it could consider itself fortunate not to have dropped another match to the Americans, whose Christian Pulisic hit the crossbar with a first-half strike and whose Weston McKinnie lifted a shot over the net from 8 yards out.

England fans had turned up in anticipation of celebrating a win and qualification to the knockout stages with a game to play against Wales.

"I want our fans at home to have a smile on their faces, and we haven't quite managed to achieve that," Southgate said. "But people are going to react how they react, and I can't let that affect how I feel about the team or how the team feels. The objective is to qualify, and we have three games (in all) to do it."

Frustrating England is one thing, but Berhalter's job is to advance to the knockout stages.

The draw sets up a match for the U.S. against Iran on Tuesday for a spot in the round of 16. Iran beat Wales 2-0 earlier Friday and sits second in Group B with three points — one more than the Americans, who played to a 1-1 draw against Wales earlier in the week.

"It sets up our first knockout game of the World Cup," Berhalter said. "We win or we're out of the World Cup. That's going to be the focus for us while we are preparing the team for the next game.

"But most importantly, understanding the intensity Iran is going to bring. They played an excellent game today, played with a ton of spirit. We'll have to be up for it if we want a chance to advance."

Southgate, meanwhile, will try to lift his players. He described them as dejected after failing to properly follow up the elating win against Iran.

Despite the boos, though, England is still atop the group with four points.

"It wasn't the best performance, for sure," said Harry Kane, whose header nearly produced a goal in stoppage time. "Good spells with the ball, but we didn't quite have the final product. We had two or three opportunities and didn't put it away."

Kane, the Golden Boot winner at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, is still looking for his first goal at this tournament.

Yunus Musah, who chose to represent the U.S. over England, showed exactly what Southgate is missing out on with a dominant midfield performance.

As for Iran, both of its goals came in second-half stoppage time, with Rouzbeh Cheshmi breaking through in the eighth added minute and Ramin Rezaeian sealing it moments later to set up a wild celebration as players tossed coach Carlos Queiroz in the air. Iran has never reached the knockout round at a World Cup.

Wales is making just its second appearance at the World Cup and first since 1958. Gareth Bales made his 110th appearance for the national team, breaking teammate Chris Gunter's record, but Bales remains stuck on 41 goals.

In other action Friday, Ecuador striker Énner Valencia scored a World Cup-best third goal in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands that eliminated host nation Qatar from the 32-team tournament.

The draw gave both the Dutch and Ecuador one point apiece to move them to four points in Group A. It left Qatar with zero points after losing 3-1 to Senegal hours earlier.

Valencia, the 33-year-old team captain, has scored all six of Ecuador's goals at World Cup tournaments since 2014.

The Netherlands had its seven-game winning streak in group matches at World Cups ended. The Dutch were winners through their first three games in 2010 and 2014, and they opened in Qatar by beating Senegal 2-0.

Qatar, which opened the event with a 2-0 loss to Ecuador on Sunday, became the quickest host nation team to depart the tournament in the 92-year history of the World Cup. South Africa had been the only other home team to fail to make it out the group stage in 2010, but it at least managed a win and a draw.

"If you expected us to go very far in this tournament, then it will be a disappointment," Qatar coach Félix Sánchez said before his team was officially out. "Our goal was to be competitive."

Qatar had never qualified for the World Cup before FIFA's highly contentious decision in 2010 to give it the tournament. That gave its team automatic entry. Although the oil- and gas-rich nation spent close to $220 billion of its vast riches on building stadiums, roads and even a new city for the event, it couldn't put together a solid defense for the team.