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Dirty Tackle

U.S. defensive gaffe gives Portugal an early goal

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle
Portugal's Nani, right, scores the opening goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014
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Portugal's Nani, right, scores the opening goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

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The U.S. gifted Portugal with an early goal off a flubbed clearance attempt from defender Geoff Cameron, dampening the confidence with which the Americans came into their second group-stage after beating Ghana 2-1 in remarkable fashion. Cameron shouldn't have been troubled when Portugal played a simple ball into the box in the 5th minute, but his clearance effort got away from him and found its way to Nani on the far side of the box, where he fired a shot into the top of the net to make it 1-0.

The U.S. benefited from an early goal against Ghana when Clint Dempsey scored just 29 seconds into the game, while Portugal never recovered after allowing early goals to Germany in their first match. With Jozy Altidore injured, the U.S. started with Dempsey and his banged up face as the lone striker against Portugal, which could make it more difficult to find an equalizer — or even the winner that would seal their place in the knockout stage. Portugal, meanwhile, know that if they lose their World Cup is over.

The U.S. peppered Portugal's goal with shots from distance throughout the first half, but it was the Portuguese who came closest to scoring shortly before halftime, hitting the post before Tim Howard recovered to make a brilliant save and end the moment of panic.

The first half also included the World Cup's first water break as the players struggled through the extreme heat and humidity in the Amazon city of Manaus.

In the 64th minute, Jermaine Jones came through with an equalizer from outside the box that completely froze Portugal keeper Beto to make it 1-1 after a Ricardo Costa goal-line clearance denied Michael Bradley from a near certain goal a short time earlier. Clint Dempsey scored his second goal of the tournament to put the U.S. 2-1 in the 81st minute, but in the final moments of the match, Cristiano Ronaldo played a perfect cross into the box to Varela for an equalizer at the death.

The match ended in a 2-2 draw that saved Portugal from elimination and leaves the U.S. needing a result against Germany to advance to the knockout stage.

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