Last-gasp Portugal draws with US to stay alive

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Clint Dempsey of the US watches after knocking the ball into the net against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus on Sunday.

Clint Dempsey of the US watches after knocking the ball into the net against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus on Sunday.

MANAUS, Brazil : Portuguese substitute Silvestre Varela grabbed a dramatic stoppage-time equalizer to secure a 2-2 draw with the United States in World Cup Group G on Sunday and keep his team’s hopes alive.

Just as it looked as though the Americans had secured a come-from-behind victory to qualify for the second round, Varela scored with a flying header from a Cristiano Ronaldo cross.

The result means that after two games the US is in second place, level with Germany on four points. Portugal is joint bottom with Ghana on one point and face a tough task to make the next round.

“When you concede in the last second it is unfortunate, but it was an amazing game from us, I can’t ask for any more,” said US coach Juergen Klinsmann.

The Americans face Germany in the final game and need a point to ensure qualification.

“We will take even more confidence into the next game. It will be another final but that is what the World Cup is about,” said Klinsmann.

Silvestre Varela (C) scores Portugal's second goal during their 2014 World Cup G soccer match against USA at the Amazonia arena in Manaus on Sunday

Silvestre Varela (C) scores Portugal’s second goal during their 2014 World Cup G soccer match against USA at the Amazonia arena in Manaus on Sunday

The US scored late to beat Ghana 2-1 in the first game and Clint Dempsey looked to have repeated the feat in the 81st minute, steering the ball home with his stomach to give his team the lead.

Portugal lost its first game 4-0 to Germany and coach Paulo Bento said his team had to beat the Americans to stand any chance of progressing.

Portugal opened the scoring in the fifth minute when US defender Geoff Cameron swung a foot at a Miguel Veloso cross and succeeded only in slicing the ball across his own area right to the feet of Nani, who scored easily.

The Europeans then sat back in the heat and humidity, allowing their opponents to start dominating. The temperature in the Amazonia arena was 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) at kickoff with a humidity reading of 65 percent.

Portugal still looked dangerous in the first half and Nani hit the left-hand post in the 45th minute from outside the area. The ball rebounded to Eder but his looping shot was brilliantly scooped over the bar by US goalkeeper Tim Howard.

As the second half progressed the Portuguese wilted and it was little surprise when US midfielder Jermaine Jones cut in from the left in the 64th minute and fired in a superb right-foot curling shot from 25 meters to equalize.

Portugal started with Ronaldo, who has been trying to shake off a knee injury. He was ineffective against the Germans and only shone fitfully against the Americans, leaving the best until last.

The US missed a great chance to equalize in the 55th minute when Michael Bradley’s close-range shot was cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa.

Varela’s goal was the second time he has struck late for Portugal at a major tournament. In Euro 2012, he scored an 87th-minute winner against Denmark in a first-round game.

Portugal's forward Nani (L) scores against US goalkeeper Tim Howard during a Group G football match between USA and Portugal at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Sunday.

Portugal’s forward Nani (L) scores against US goalkeeper Tim Howard during a Group G football match between USA and Portugal at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Sunday.

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