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article imageUSA v Portugal — down to the wire

By Mike Rossi     Jun 22, 2014 in Sports
Manaus - Those football fans unlucky enough not to sneak out of the office to catch today's World Cup action between the United States and Portugal are sure to be kicking themselves.
The game which ended in a 2-2 draw had everything fans could have asked for other than a winning side.
Incredible shots.
Brilliant saves.
Clinical finishes.
Massive momentum swings.
The scoring started early in the first half.
Following a horribly misplayed ball by American back Geoff Cameron, Portuguese striker Nani found himself alone with the ball at the six yard mark.
American goalkeeper Tim Howard could only watch as the Manchester United man hammered the ball underneath the crossbar to give Portugal a 1-0 lead and dream start to their second game of the tournament.
From there, much of the first half was spent in equal possession as neither side managed to break through for the second goal of the game, despite a flurry of fantastic efforts — none better than Nani's banger from just inside the 18-yard mark that rang off post and onto the feet of team mate Eder, who lifted the ball beautifully back towards the net forcing Howard to make a momentous save.
The pace only intensified as the second half got under way.
Less than 15 minutes in, an American equalizer looked like a virtual certainty as American midfielder Michael Bradley found himself alone in the box with a goalie-free net in front of him.
However, the tying goal was not to be as a flailing Ricardo Costa managed to lift his knee and deflect the ball over the crossbar prompting exuberant thanks from Portugal fans everywhere.
Then, in the 64th minute, the constant pressure from Team USA paid off.
American midfielder Jermaine Jones unloaded a massive right-foot from 30 yards out, sending the ball sailing around a leaping Portuguese defender and beyond a helpless Beto, to draw the match even at 1-1.
The equalizing effort set the stage for the United States to escape with at least a single point, should the scoring have concluded with Jones' blast.
But it didn't.
With just under 10 minutes to play, the Americans found themselves on the better half of a 2-1 score as Graham Zusi's gentle cross from the left side of the box found a barely on-side Clint Dempsy who used — of all things — his stomach to score his second goal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Portugal, however, would answer.
As the regulation expired, the officials added a generous five minutes of stoppage time to the contest. As it would turn out, the Portuguese would need every second of it.
Despite USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann urging his players to stay in the defensive half of the field, Portugal found itself with, not only possession, but a two-on-two rush and the ball at the feet of the world's most talented player, Cristiano Ronaldo.
That was all it took.
Sprinting down the right side of the field, Ronaldo sent a cross — that can only be described as perfect — sailing towards the middle of the box where it found the head of fellow Portuguese striker Varela and then the back of of the net.
The final whistle blew shortly after the ensuing kick-off leaving fans on both sides with an utterly shocking 2-2 result.
The draw makes for a very interesting final day of play for Group G, with all four members still having a chance to advance into the round of 16.
For the United States, a win or draw with Germany ensures a birth into the next round, as does a Portugal-Ghana tie.
Much the same can be said about Germany, who needs a win or draw with the US or a Portugal-Ghana draw.
Speaking of Portugal and Ghana, the road to 16 will be a bit tougher for the only two win-less sides of Group G. Both teams need a win from their match-up on Thursday and a favourable goal-differential to advance.
If you can, try to find your way in front of a TV on Thursday to catch some of the excitement.
USA-Germany and Portugal-Ghana kick-off at the same time, 12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
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