Sweet revenge for US

Natal (Brazil) : After 90 brutal minutes of end-to-end action, the Americans emerged with a thrilling 2-1 win over Ghana.

US fans were screaming for revenge Monday after the Black Stars eliminated the Americans from the last two Cups. They got it. At a price.Clint Dempsey scored a shocking goal a half-minute in, but the US couldn’t make it stand up. Andre Ayew tied the score in the 82nd minute after a brilliant back-heel pass from Asamoah Gyan, who had eliminated the US four years ago.

And then, just four minutes later, 20-year-old John Brooks rose to head in Graham Zusi’s corner kick from 8 yards — the first substitute to ever score for the United States in 30 World Cup games over 84 years.

The defender, an unexpected addition to the American roster, was so overcome he fell to the field and was unable to move even after teammates climbed off the dog pile. He had made his national team debut only last August, and Brooks hadn’t scored in four appearances.

 US players ran onto the field to celebrate at the final whistle, jumping as supporters chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Now the Americans are in good position in Group G, where Germany opened with a 4-0 rout of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann had said this would be like a final. Jozy Altidore was hoping it wasn’t his finale. The forward was carried off on a stretcher after his left hamstring gave out in the 21st minute when he tried to control a long ball. He awaits tests that will determine whether he can return for this World Cup.

Dempsey went down too on a balmy late-autumn night but stayed in the game. The US captain ended the first half with a tissue up his nose to stop the bleeding after John Boye’s kick to his face during a battle for a header in the 31st minute, and he was struggling for breath in the second.

Matt Besler came out at the start of the second half after feeling tightness in his right hamstring. It was his replacement, Brooks, who scored the winning goal. Zusi was also a sub, coming on for the hobbling Alejandro Bedoya in the second half.

By the time of the final whistle, the US lineup had Brooks in central defense and a virtually invisible 23-year-old Aron Johannsson at forward. Now the odds favor advancement. But that might depend on which players are able to make it on the field for Sunday’s game against Portugal in the hot and humid Amazon rain forest capital of Manaus.

Iran hold Nigeria

Nigeria and Iran delivered the first draw of the World Cup on Monday as they ground out a scrappy 0-0 stalemate in their opening match in Group F.

The draw at the Arena da Baixada in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba followed 12 mostly high scoring and attacking games.

After a first half in which Nigeria failed to capitalize on its dominance, chances were few and far between in the second.

In the early passages of play, Nigeria had shown menace, with much of its attacking thrust coming down the left with Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses combining to cause problems for the defensively-minded Iran side.

Nigeria came closest to scoring in the seventh minute when an Ahmed Musa goal was disallowed after John Obi Mikel was adjudged to have fouled Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi at a corner.

Iran grew more confident as the game progressed and came close to scoring in the 34th when a Reza Ghoochannejhad header required a sharp save from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

In the second half, both sides were guilty of sloppy passages of play, to the growing annoyance of the mainly Brazilian crowd. Players from both sides snatched at chances, and neither goalkeeper was troubled despite some frantic late pressure in the final minutes.

Both sides must now look to beat tournament debutant Bosnia-Herzegovina in a group that most expect to be won by Argentina. Lionel Messi scored one of the tournament’s best goals in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over the Bosnians on Sunday.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said the result was “fair” and that his players deserved “sympathy and respect” for performing on the biggest stage despite the impact of economic sanctions on the country which made it difficult to arrange friendlies. “We’re not here to perform the role of the happy loser,” Queiroz said. “The fans need to know the conditions we have endured for three years to get here.”

Queiroz wouldn’t talk about the team’s next game against Argentina. “Now I’m so tired just let me enjoy this point we collected from Nigeria,” he said.

The result will be a disappointment for Nigeria, the current Africa Cup of Nations champion. Following a long slump, the team had been showing signs of some of the flair and power that had marked the country’s football in the 1990s. The draw means the winless World Cup runs of both teams continues.

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