United States record historic World Cup win

 

The United States withstood a furious second-half onslaught from Portugal to win a thrilling Group D match at the Suwon Stadium today.

The USA stunned the star-studded Portuguese side spearheaded by Luis Figo surged into a 3-0 lead after only 36 minutes with goals from John O'Brien, Brian McBride and a Jorge Costa own goal.

The technically superior Portuguese, playing in their first World Cup since 1986, roared back into the match and spent much of the second half camped deep in US territory.

They reduced the deficit to two goals through a Beto strike just before half-time, and made it 3-2 when Jeff Agoos volleyed in a spectacular own goal on 71 minutes.

But in strength-sapping heat Bruce Arena's team of largely US-based players managed to withstand a series of Portuguese raids orchestrated by the skilful AC Milan star Rui Costa to hang on for a dramatic win.

The Americans got off to a dream start after only four minutes with a goal resulting from a corner by Holland-based skipper Earnie Stewart.

McBride leapt superbly to power a header goalwards, and when Portuguese 'keeper Vitor Baia could only parry, O'Brien was on hand to lash the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

Moments later Baia was in trouble again, punching an inswinging Stewart freekick along the floor only as far as McBride. Luckily for the Portuguese 'keeper the rebound ran wide.

At the other end Portugal struggled to test Brad Friedel, Pauleta's glanced header from a Rui Costa free-kick flashing wide on 22 minutes.

But while Portugal had plenty of possession their defence continued to look vulnerable and it was failure to clear a USA attack properly that led to the second goal in the 29th minute.

A Landon Donovan cross was whipped in from the right but deflected off Costa to beat Baia at the near-post to leave Portugal stunned.

Just when America's disbelieving supporters thought it couldn't get any better, it did.

A fabulously flighted 30-metre cross from the right flank by Tony Sanneh was met at the back post by a diving McBride for a spectacular header which gave Baia no chance.

Portugal gave themselves hope just before the break. A header by Beto was half-cleared by O'Brien, and Beto made no mistake with the second attempt, hammering in from close range.

Portugal controlled the second half and got a second when Pauleta's cross was smashed into the US net by the experienced Agoos. But Portugal looked desperately tired in the final 10 minutes and America hung on.