News

U.S., Portugal game ends in draw in World Cup stunner

U.S., Portugal game ends in draw in World Cup stunner

WORLD CUP: United States' Clint Dempsey, scores his side's second goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22. Photo: Associated Press/Julio Cortez

By Nick Mulvenney

(Reuters) – With one moment of genuine class at the very death, Portugal snatched victory from the grasp of the United States and kept their World Cup hopes alive on Sunday.

If football was divided between “triers” and “flyers” then Juergen Klinsmann’s uber-fit side would be an embodiment of the former, while World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo could be considered the archetype of the latter.

For 14 minutes in the intense heat and 65 percent humidity of the Amazon basin on Sunday, it looked like the triers would prevail courtesy of Clint Dempsey’s goal, which he most unglamorously bundled over the line with his stomach.

PHOTOS: USA vs. Portugal World Cup match | EXTRA: Americans show the love soccer too

But quality will often emerge and after 94 minutes of contributing very little, Ronaldo whipped in an inch perfect cross which substitute winger Silvestre Varela rocketed into the net with a diving header.

It was a brutal end to the evening for the Americans, who had poured heart, sweat and soul into their quest for a second victory and a place in the last 16 for the fourth time in the last seven tournaments.

Klinsmann has come under repeated flak for over-training his players, a criticism which gained more currency when his key striker Jozy Altidore limped out of the World Cup with a hamstring strain in the opening 2-1 victory over Ghana.

Central defender Matt Besler was withdrawn from the same match in Natal after feeling his own hamstring tightening, although he was fit to start on Sunday.

BOOT CAMP

Klinsmann’s pre-tournament boot camp was vindicated in sultry Manaus, however, when his team made light of the stifling heat and battled back after handing the Portuguese a fifth minute lead through a Geoff Cameron defensive error.

Nani snapped up that chance with alacrity and nearly scored again with a thumping shot that came back off the post in stoppage time in the first half with Tim Howard saving brilliantly to deny Eder from the rebound.

Those moments apart, the Americans had contained the Portuguese and Jermaine Jones, the rock at the heart of the United States midfield, equalized by a curling the ball into the net with a strike of no small quality in the 64th minute.

PHOTOS: Team USA fans

Whether or not he has a debilitating knee injury, Ronaldo, as he had in the 4-0 defeat by Germany with which Portugal opened their campaign, looked distinctly out of sorts until his decisive contribution at the end.

The 2-2 draw means the Americans need only a point from their final match against Germany to guarantee their progress from one of the toughest groups at the World Cup.

“The US are known to give everything in every single game,” said Klinsmann.

“We have that fighting spirit and determination to try to win every game and therefore we will go for a win against Germany.”

Portugal find themselves with their destiny out of their own hands as they prepare for their final group match against Ghana.

Coach Paolo Bento was left bemoaning the impact on his squad of so many having played for European clubs competing for silverware.

“Many of the players had a very short break before the World Cup and we have hence had many injuries during the tournament,” he said. “This will of course limit our options.”

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Latest Stories

in National

The skies will be crowded this Labor Day

Fresh
plane

The group has forecast that summer travel will reach an all-time high on the wings of a strong U.S. economy.

in National

Days numbered for barcodes as shoppers demand more data

Fresh
barcodes

Growing demand for more information about the products we buy could mean the end of the simple barcode - the blocks of black and white stripes that adorn most objects for sale and are scanned five billion times a day.

in Sports

Preview: Deutsche Bank Championship

Fresh
18-overlay1

The 2015 FedExCup Playoffs continue with the second leg in Boston, Massachusetts at TPC Boston where the top 100 in the standings will dwindle down to 70 for the BMW Championship.