It was a game that stretched and frayed the nerves of USA soccer fame around world as Clint Dempsey gave the U.S. the perfect start when he scored after 31 seconds played, the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history.
But when Jozy Altidore pulled a hamstring in the 21st minute, the US lost its outlet, and as a result were forced further and further pack by Ghana.
Unable to maintain possession of the ball, the pressure built and built on the American defense and eventually Ghana got the breakthrough they deserved in the 82th minute when Asamoah Gyan’s clever backheel allowed Andre Ayew the space to fire the ball past Tim Howard.
With 8 minutes to go, I expected the US to capitulate and give up a second goal. But cheered on my a massive American following in Natal, substitute John Brooks headed home Graham Zusi’s corner in the 86th minute to give the Yanks a famous win.
Massive win for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side who now head up the Amazon to face a Portugal side battered by Germany 4-0 earlier today. A win guarantees the Americans a place in the knockout stages, while a point might just be enough to see the US advance also.
But if the US are to win on Sunday in Manaus, they will need a more composed performance than we saw tonight. Too often the Americans gave the ball away, resulting in sustained Ghana pressure.
Ghana also had a lot of joy attacking down the US left, and I would expect that Nani and Ronaldo will be licking their lips at the prospect of running at an exposed DaMarcus Beasley.
Portugal were torn apart by German in Salvador as Thomas Muller scored a hat trick in Germany’s 4-0 win.
Portugal were already 2-0 down before they imploded completely with Pepe shown a straight red card for a light head-butt on Muller.
Germany, utterly dominant despite playing without a recognised centre forward, went on to win 4-0 with three goals for Muller, the Golden Boot winner at the last World Cup, and a thunderous header from Mats Hummels.
In the other game we has our first scoreless draw of the World Cup as Nigeria and Iran meet in a very forgettable game.