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Last-gasp Portugal goal denies U.S.

Author: Kristy

The United States came within seconds of booking their place in the round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup after Varela scored just before the final whistle to snatch a 2-2 draw for Portugal in Manaus.

Nani had opened the scoring early on only for Jermaine Jones to net a stunner in the second half, before Clint Dempsey bundled home with nine minutes of normal time remaining to seemingly secure his nation’s progression from Group G — but Varela netted nearly five minutes into stoppage time to keep Portugal’s qualification hopes alive.

The U.S. can advance to the knockout stage with a win or draw against Germany on Thursday (Noon ET, ESPN).

Portugal took the lead after just five minutes when Geoff Cameron’s wild clearance fell to Nani at the back post, allowing the winger to thump the ball past goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The U.S. responded well to going behind, as Clint Dempsey curled a free-kick over the bar and then saw a shot from an acute angle saved by Portugal’s Beto.

Michael Bradley also tried his luck from range but the effort rose off target before Fabian Johnson swerved an effort wide of the post.

Portugal came close to doubling their lead before halftime when Nani’s shot was pushed onto the post and then substitute Eder’s rebound was acrobatically palmed over by keeper Tim Howard.

The U.S. continued to press in the second half and Michael Bradley was denied an equaliser in the 55th minute when his goal-bound shot was superbly cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa.

Cristiano Ronaldo then spurned a chance to make it 2-0 as he fired wide following a counter-attack, and Jones made him pay for his miss when on 64 minutes he curled in a stunning strike that left Beto rooted to the spot.

With nine minutes left on the clock, Dempsey looked to have won it for the U.S. as he turned in Graham Zusi’s cross from close range into an empty net with Portugal’s backline all at sea, but deep into stoppage time Varela headed in Ronaldo’s cross to salvage a point.

More to follow…

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