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Slovenia 2-2 United States - Match Report
Published : 18 Jun 2010 17:54:52Rss feed
The USA staged a dramatic second-half comeback to salvage a 2-2 draw against Slovenia at Ellis Park that keeps their World Cup hopes alive.
Bob Bradley's side looked down and out when they traipsed off the pitch after 45 minutes two goals down, but a couple of half-time changes transformed their fortunes and they hit back to claim a point.
It was unfortunate for Slovenia as they were eight minutes away from sealing their place in the last 16 with one group game to go until Michael Bradley fired home the USA's equaliser. And the Americans almost snatched a dramatic winner as Maurice Edu then had the ball in the back of the net only for the referee to mysteriously disallow the effort.
After a low-key start to the match, Slovenia took the lead in the 13th minute thanks to a superb strike from Auxerre's Valter Birsa, whose 25-yard left-footed curler left Tim Howard stranded.
Birsa almost doubled Slovenia's lead with a long-range free-kick that evaded everyone and almost deceived Howard who eventually managed to hang on to the ball.
The USA's long-ball tactics were getting them nowhere but they did at least create a couple of half-chances just before the interval. Jose Torres went for goal from a free-kick that, despite being from a tight angle, forced Samir Handanovic to make a smart stop at his near post.
Miso Brecko then whipped the ball away from Clint Dempsey just as the Fulham striker was about to slot the ball in to an empty net. However, Slovenia doubled their lead three minutes before the interval when Zlatan Ljubijankic beat the offside trap, ran on, and coolly slotted the ball past the despairing Howard.
There appeared to be no way back for the hapless Americans, but they were transformed after the interval and pulled a goal back just three minutes into the second period when Landon Donovan lashed the ball home from six yards out despite the narrow angle.
Both teams pressed forward for the rest of the half, but Slovenia's close-passing game started to unravel and they conceded several free-kicks close to their own area and had three players booked in six minutes as they began to panic.
Just when it appeared as though they had done enough to win the match, Slovenia conceded a second goal when the lively Jozy Altidore headed a long ball forward down into the path of Bradley, who had made a great run forward and he lashed the ball into the roof of the net.
The USA appeared to be content with a point but they almost snatched an unlikely victory when Edu forced the ball home, only for the referee to rule it out to everyone's confusion.