Portugal stunned by USA
Wednesday 05 June 2002
The United States pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the World Cup so far, racing to a three goal lead against Portugal on Wednesday and holding on for a 3-2 victory.
John O'Brien, one of six US players making their World Cup debuts, scored just four minutes in. The Americans got another in the 29th minute when a shot by Landon Donovan was deflected into his own net by Costa.
Brian McBride made it 3-0 in the 36th minute to give the US team its first three-goal lead in a World Cup game in 72 years. All this scoring came without Claudio Reyna, the Americans' captain and top midfielder, and Clint Mathis, their most creative attacker, both out with injuries.
Portugal came back with Beto's 39th minute effort and Jeff Agoos' 71st minute own goal, but despite piling pressure on the US goal in the second half, the Americans clinched three points.
"They're a very good team, but the guys were ready and really put pressure on and we took advantage of our chances." said McBride.
The result leaves the United States second in Group D with three points behind South Korea on goal difference. Portugal and Poland share third place.
At the end of the game, after killing much of the last five minutes with time wasting, US players ran out onto the field and jumped into each other's arms.
Four years ago, the Americans lost to Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia in the first round to finish last in the tournament and take a step back from 1994, when they were World Cup hosts and advanced to the second round.
Earnie Stewart, the captain in Reyna's absence, sparked the scoring spree. He took a corner kick and McBride's header bounced off the left hand of goalkeeper Vitor Baia. O'Brien was there to knock in the rebound and give the United States its first lead in 454 minutes of World Cup play.
Donovan created the second goal when his shot from an extreme angle deflected off the head of Jorge Costa and went past Baia. McBride, who got the lone US goal during the 1998 tournament, made it 3-0 with a diving header off a cross from Stewart.
Portugal quickly regrouped and scored three minutes later off a corner kick by Figo. Figo's kick went to Beto, who headed the ball. O'Brien tried to clear it, but the ball bounced back to Beto, whose second shot beat Friedel.
Agoos, making his World Cup debut at age 34, made it even tighter 19 minutes from time. He tried to clear a shot by Pauleta with his left leg, but instead kicked the ball past his own goalkeeper.But the US team held on, clinching its biggest win since beating England in the 1950 World Cup.
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