Portugal tied the U.S. 2-2 with a last second goal last night to keep alive its chances of advancing at soccer’s World Cup. Belgium and Algeria got wins to take control of their group.
Portugal was losing 2-1 in Manaus when World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo passed the ball to Varela, who headed the ball past Tim Howard in the final minute of added time. The U.S. used two second-half goals to take a lead in the Group G game.
“When you concede in the last second it is unfortunate, but it was an amazing game from us, I can’t ask for any more,” U.S. manager Juergen Klinsmann said “Now we have to get a result against Germany and that is what we are going to do.”
Today -- in the first set of final group round games -- two teams that have already advanced from Group B, the Netherlands and Chile, meet in Sao Paulo, while eliminated Australia takes on homeward-bound defending champions Spain in Curitiba. In Group A, Cameroon plays Brazil in Brasilia and Croatia takes on Mexico.
Yesterday in Group H, Belgium won 1-0 over Russia in Rio De Janeiro with a late goal from teenage substitute Divock Origi to advance to the next round. Algeria struck with three first-half goals in its 4-2 defeat of Korea.
The U.S. would have advanced with a victory, while Portugal would have been out with a loss. The draw keeps all teams in the group able to progress after Germany drew 2-2 with Ghana yesterday.
Germany and the U.S. each have four points after two matches, with Ghana and Portugal each with 1. In the final round of opening games on June 26, Germany takes on the U.S. and Portugal meets Ghana to decide the group.
Portugal took a lead in the fifth minute on a defensive error. Nani was unguarded as an attempted clearance by Geoff Cameron came to the forward in front of the U.S. goal, and he slammed the ball past goalkeeper Howard.
Jermaine Jones got the Americans back into the match in the 64th minute, taking the ball across the front of Portugal’s penalty area and swung a shot past goalkeeper Beto, who could only turn and watch it go in.
Ten minutes before the end, Clint Dempsey chested the ball past Beto to give the U.S. a lead. Dempsey was replaced after scoring his second goal of the tournament.
Varela tied it with a headed goal off a pass from Ronaldo in the fifth minute of added time.
It was 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) with 62 percent humidity when the game started in Manaus on the edge of the Amazon. Late in the first half, Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana gave the players a water break.
Germany “have more time to recover,” Klinsmann said because it played a day earlier. “We played in the Amazon and they haven’t had to travel much. Everything has been made easy for the favorites, whereas we have to struggle to go through, but that is what we will do.”
Earlier yesterday in Group H, Algeria got its first victory in the tournament since 1982 with the defeat of Korea in Porto Alegre.
Islam Slimani and Rafik Halliche scored in a two-minute stretch to push Algeria in front, and then Slimani passed to Abdelmoumene Djabou to place into the goal in the 38th minute.
Second-half goals from Korea’s Son Heung-min and captain Koo Jacheol were sandwiched around a 62nd minute goal from Yacine Brahimi.
“The players gave everything for this win,” Slimani said. “It’s still our aim to reach the Round of 16, we have a chance and I hope we’ll achieve that.
In the group’s first game, Belgium used a late goal from Origi to beat Russia and advance to the next round.
Origi toed in a pass from Eden Hazard to put the Belgians ahead in the 85th minute. It came minutes after another substitute, Kevin Mirallas, forced a save from a 25-yard free kick.
‘‘It was a complicated match but we’re very happy with the victory,” Hazard told reporters. “With the substitutes that were fresh, that was a good thing. I guess the Russian defense was a bit tired so we got more space.”
The Belgians have won their two group matches, and will move to the next round with at least their current six points. Algeria is in second with three points after yesterday’s win. Russia, which faces Algeria in their final match, and Korea, which will meet Belgium, both have one point. Algeria, Russia and Korea could still advance.