Friday, June 18, 2010

Bradley completes US fightback

USA fought back from two goals down to earn a battling 2-2 draw with Slovenia and keep their FIFA World Cup™ hopes alive in an exciting Group C clash at Ellis Park.
Matjaz Kek's men looked on course for a second straight win in the section when they took a 2-0 lead into the break through Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic but the Americans hit back as Landon Donovan narrowed the deficit before Michael Bradley equalised eight minutes from time. The result left Slovenia top of Group C with four points ahead of England's meeting with Algeria later in the day, and ensured the Americans remain undefeated with two draws ahead of their third game against the Algerians.
An exciting contest opened with Birsa blasting Slovenia into an early lead. There were just 13 minutes on the clock when the midfielder collected the ball some 25 yards from goal and left Tim Howard rooted to the spot with an expertly-guided strike to the goalkeeper's left. Bradley's men sought a response and came close when midfielder Francisco Torres fired in an inswinging free-kick from out wide that drew a fingertip save from Samir Handanovic. Donovan then looked set to tap in Clint Dempsey's low cross only for defender Miso Brecko to get a decisive touch to clear the ball.
Slovenia looked to be in dreamland in the 42nd minute when Ljubijankic doubled their lead. Milivoje Novakovic played a defence-splitting pass through to Ljubijankic who, with the Americans appealing in vain for offside, slipped the ball coolly past Howard. Yet Donovan threw the Americans a lifeline three minutes after the restart when Bostjan Cesar failed to deal with a ball down the right touchline, allowing the LA Galaxy man a free run into the box. Cutting in from the right, Donovan lashed a superb shot high above Handanovic at the near post.
With the Slovenia defence struggling to cope with the power and aerial strength of the imposing Jozy Altidore, Bradley's men kept the pressure on and the coach's son grabbed the US the point their efforts deserved – a father-and-son first in the FIFA World Cup. Altidore nodded a high ball down into the path of the onrushing Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder and he fired emphatically into the roof of the net. The Americans might even have won the game only for referee Koman Coulibaly to rule out a goal from Maurice Edu, who volleyed home Donovan's free-kick from the right. There was still time for Novakovic to threaten with a header at the other end but his effort was held comfortably by Howard.

No comments: