CHICAGO --Perhaps it was the magnitude of the match or maybe Portugal decided to show the upstart Americans that they would not roll over and die.
Early Sunday evening in the steamy jungle of the amazon rain forest, the United States fell behind the 4th-rated Portuguese when in the 5th minute, the American defense broke down. Nani took advantage and drilled home the first goal of the match behind Tim Howard, who slipped trying to make the save. It was so hot in Manaus, that referee Nestor Pitana called time in the 39th minute to let the footballers have a water break for the first time in World Cup history.
The Americans kept up the pressure in the second half. Michael Bradley had a chance to tie it from inside the 6-yard box and he booted the ball off Ricardo Costa's knee and wide. Then, in the 64th minute, Jermaine Jones got the ball to the left of the Portuguese goal and launched a thunderclap shot that just made it inside the right post and the game was tied 1-1. Arena Amazonia erupted with more than 20,000 American fans roaring.
Then, in the 81st minute, Michael Bradley's shot was blocked, rolled towards Graham Zusi, who booted it towards Clint Dempsey and the ball got past Beto and off Dempsey's chest to take a 2-1 lead. But in the final seconds of additional time, the 95th minute, the great Christiano Ronaldo made a great pass to Varela and he headed it home just 28 seconds from a USA win to make it a 2-2 tie.
The United States will face Germany on Thursday at 11 a.m. Chicago time. A tie and both teams advance. The winner advances. The USA can still advance to the knockout round with a loss, but they need Ghana to tie Portugal or have a better goal differential than either team. In any event, that was one heckuva game Sunday night in Manaus. Both teams were drained by the high heat and humidity of the jungle.
The second Sunday of World Cup action also witnessed the men of Belgium advance to the knockout stage. Belgium, rated 11th in the FIFA standings, took on 19th-ranked Russia before a near-capacity crowd at Maracana in Rio. The Russians played good defensive futbol for most of this match, despite numerous chances for the Belgians. The game went scoreless until the 88th minute when Eden Hazard made a honey of a pass to the Russian goalmouth and Divock Origi banged it home. Origi became the youngest man, at 19 years old, to score a World Cup goal in the huge history of this great tournament. Belgium will face the Korean Republic on Thursday in a meaningless game for them, as they have advanced to the round of 16.
The second game of the day had Korea facing Algeria and this was no contest. Algeria was fighting for its knockout stage life having lost their opener. The first 25 minutes were boring, but in the 26th minute, Islam Slimani took a looping pass, dribbled through two Korean defenders and scored with his left foot. He then imitated former Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel thrusting the "money sign" into the air with both hands. The Algerians scored two minutes later when Rafik headed home a kick from the side, and in the 38th minute Abdelmoumene Djabou scored, Algeria led 3-0 and went on to score a 4-2 victory. Algeria can advance to the round of 16 if they beat Russia next Wednesday and Korea ties or loses to Belgium. Korea can advance if the Russians beat Algeria and they beat Belgium.
Monday there are four games. Australia and Spain meet in a losers game at 11 a.m. Chicago time. Both will go home after Monday's game. In the other 11 a.m. game, Netherlands will face Chile, both have already advanced to the round of 16. These games are not even worth a prediction. In the afternoon games, Cameroon faces Brazil. Cameroon is already eliminated and I'm picking Brazil to win. In the other 3 p.m. game, Mexico faces Croatia. I'll go out on a limb and pick Mexico to win and advance. A Croatian loss and they're out.
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Since joining ABC7 in 1982, Jim Rose has become a major force in Chicago sports broadcasting. He currently serves as sports anchor/reporter for ABC7 News in Chicago's top-rated 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts. He is an avid fan of the World Cup! Learn more about Jim