NEWS
Sunday June 22 2014
Portugal-USA thriller

Portugal snatched a stoppage-time equaliser for 2-2 after USA had fought back to lead in a Manaus thriller.

A victory would’ve put America into the next round and eliminated Cristiano Ronaldo’s side, but this result leaves Jurgen Klinsmann’s side needing a point against Germany.

The Ballon d’Or winner started despite a knee injury, but Rui Patricio, Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao didn’t make it. Pepe was also suspended after his red card in the 4-0 defeat to Germany. America missed Jozy Altidore with a hamstring problem, so Graham Zusi stepped in.

It took just five minutes to break through, as Geoff Cameron didn’t deal with a cross from the left, allowing Nani to blast under the bar.

Helder Postiga barely played since joining Lazio on loan in January and picked up another injury here for Portugal.

Clint Dempsey forced Beto to parry with a foot from close range, had another shot charged down and Bradley threatened with a couple of strikes from distance.

The referee awarded a small break for players to take in water on a hot and sticky night in Manaus.

Fabian Johnson hit a blockbuster wide, but Portugal invited America forward and went close to a second when Nani stung Tim Howard’s gloves on the counter.

Howard did brilliantly before the break with a double save, as he palmed a Nani strike on to the upright, then stuck up a hand to fingertip away the Eder follow-up.

Former Roma midfielder Bradley thought he had equalised on 55 minutes when meeting a Johnson pull-back from six yards, but Ricardo Costa performed an extraordinary goalline clearance.

Portugal were only focused on the counter and it almost paid off, but Ronaldo fired well wide and America equalised moments later.

A corner came out to Jermaine Jones, who hit a missile through the crowd that swerved viciously and left Beto rooted to the spot.

It was now wide open and Howard failed to cut out a cross, but made up for it by beating away the Raul Meireles half-volley.

Nani blasted over and soon after America turned the game around completely. It was another rapid move down the wings and pulled back by Graham Zusi for Dempsey to bundle over from point-blank range off his stomach, as the Portuguese offside trap failed.

Ronaldo kept trying, but his header went wide and a Bruno Alves acrobatic volley hit the side-netting.

With the last kick of the game, Portugal snatched a point, as Ronaldo whipped in a cross from the right for substitute Varela’s diving header.

USA 2-2 Portugal

Scorers: Nani 5 (P), Jones 64 (U), Dempsey 81 (U), Varela 95 (P)

USA: Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Bedoya (Yedlin 72), Beckerman, Bradley, Jones, Zusi (Gonzalez 90); Dempsey (Wondolowski 87)

Portugal: Beto; Pereira, Bruno Alves, Costa, A Almeida (William 46); Moutinho, Meireles (Varela 69), Veloso; Nani, Postiga (Eder 15), Ronaldo

Ref: Pitana (ARG)