Germany beats Algeria 2-1 in Extra Time and France beats Nigeria 2-0

Game Highlights:

  • Djabou scores! 2-1
  • Oezil scores at 120′! 2 – 0
  • Andre Schurrle scores with a flick in extra time to put his country ahead!
  • Extra-time kicks off as teams face up to the prospect of a penalty shootout
  • 1982 scandal revenge sought by Africans
  • Score remains goalless at half-time as neither side manages to find a breakthrough
  • Germany huge favourites to reach quarter-finals against African minnows
  • Desert Foxes into knockout stage for first time in their history
  • Two sides clash in Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre
  • Winner will face France in quarter-finals after they beat Nigeria 2-0

Germany: Neuer, Mustafi (Khedira 70), Mertesacker, Boateng, Howedes, Lahm, Ozil, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Gotze (Schurrle 46), Muller.
Subs: Zieler, Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Podolski, Klose, Draxler, Durm, Kramer.

Goal: Schurrle 92.

Algeria: M’Bolhi, Mandi, Belkalem, Halliche (Bougherra 98), Ghoulam, Lacen, Mostefa, Feghouli, Soudani (Djabou 100), Taider (Brahimi 79), Slimani.
Subs: Si Mohamed, Zemmamouche, Mesbah, Yebda, Ghilas, Medjani, Bentaleb, Cadamuro, Mahrez.

Booked: Halliche.

Referee: Sandro Meira Ricci (Brazil)

 

Paul Pogba opens scoring as Didier Deschamps’ team wins World Cup round of 16 tie

There can be no position in sport where the dichotomy between hero and villain is defined more cruelly or narrowly than that of goalkeeper.

For 78 minutes, Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama had been inspired in standing up to everything that France could throw at him. But then, just seconds after making a fingertip save to deny Karim Benzema, he rushed at a cross and gifted Paul Pogba what proved to be the decisive goal. A mix-up in added time with Joseph Yobo subsequently gave far more comfort to the scoreline than the French players had felt at any point of the match.

Nigeria had dominated for significant periods and, with Emmanuel Emenike’s first-half ‘goal’ ruled out by the most marginal of offside decisions, they could have easily been the team preparing for a quarter-final in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

Nigeria were also riled by a series of refereeing decisions, with Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi both surviving moments of indiscipline.

France, though, certainly did finish the match with a flourish and, given their dramatic improvement after Giroud was replaced by Antoine Griezmann in the 62nd minute, it is hard to imagine Didier Deschamps, the manager, keeping faith with the Arsenal striker in the quarter-finals.

“A game lasts 90 minutes and we finished very well,” Deschamps said. “We had a very strong last half an hour with more dynamism and speed. When you look at the recent past of the French national team, I am very proud to be in the last eight of this World Cup. We came very far. Whatever happens now it’s not failure.”

Of Giroud’s specific performance, Deschamps said: “He was a support for Benzema – his headers defensively and offensively were important. I could have started with Griezmann but would it have worked? No one knows.” The caveat for France’s seamless progress through the tournament had always been the relative weakness of their group and it was quickly obvious that Nigeria would pose a considerable threat.

With Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa providing pace out wide and Peter Odemwingie given licence to roam in the space behind Emenike, Nigeria were fearless in how they approached the match. Odemwingie’s running between France’s midfield and defence was a particular threat, with Nigeria unfortunate not to be ahead at half-time. From a free-kick that was cleverly directed towards France’s near post by Musa, Emenike deftly cushioned his finish between Hugo Lloris and the post.

Subsequent replays suggested that Emenike was offside but only by the narrowest of distances.

Deschamps had actually made six changes from France’s previous match against Ecuador when his team were already qualified but, far from benefiting from the rest, key players initially looked jaded. With Giroud handed the responsibility of knitting together France’s attack from the centre-forward’s position, Benzema was asked to play out wide on the left. France’s most convincing passages of first-half football, however, all involved Pogba and Mathieu Valbuena, who combined to produce one particularly slick move that ended with Pogba’s volley forcing Enyeama to make a good save.

Mathieu Debuchy was also threatening with his overlapping runs down the right and, after another clever exchange between Valbuena and Pogba, wasted an excellent chance with a wayward shot. It was soon clear that France’s attacking formation was not working, with Giroud laboured and Benzema peripheral. Giroud had also been fortunate in the first half when he appeared to throw an elbow – albeit with limited force – into the face of John Obi Mikel.

Referee Mark Geiger was then even more lenient when Matuidi’s dangerous studs-up challenge put Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi out of the game with an ankle injury. The introduction of Griezmann allowed Benzema to move into his preferred role as the main central striker and he was soon clear on goal after an exchange of passes with the Real Sociedad winger.

Benzema tried to slide his shot beneath Enyeama, who got just enough contact to slow the ball and allow Moses to clear off the line. With Benzema clearly energised by the tactical change, France suddenly came to life and played what was easily their best football of the match.

Valbuena had a shot cleared off the line and Cabaye then rattled the crossbar with the follow-up. The quality of Valbuena’s delivery was evident when he crossed for Benzema to force another wonderful save from Enyeama.

The Nigeria goalkeeper was delivering an outstanding performance but, from the resulting corner, the adrenalin seemed to get the better of him. Valbuena’s cross was again precise but Enyeama made an ill-judged attempt to collect the cross and only succeeded in palming the ball towards Pogba, who gratefully aimed his header into an empty goal.

Admirably, Enyeama did not let the mistake affect him and actually made another excellent late save to deny Benzema.

By then, however, it was a case of too little too late for Nigeria, with France completing their passage into the quarter-finals when Valbuena’s cross was turned into his own goal by Yobo.

Mexico’s great wall Ochoa breached, Netherlands win 2-1 and Costa Rica Hangs on to Beat Greece in Shootout !

The Netherlands scored twice in the dying minutes through Wesley Sneijder and a Klaas Jan Huntelaar penalty to move into the quarter-finals of the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday.

In a match conditioned by the baking heat and humidity in Fortaleza, Giovani dos Santos looked to have Mexico on the way to their first quarter-final appearance on foreign soil when he opened the scoring three minutes into the second-half.

However, Sneijder levelled with a thumping volley from the edge of the area two minutes from time before Huntelaar converted from the spot in stoppage time after Rafael Marquez had upended Arjen Robben.

Robben confessed penalty unfair, says Mexico captain!

Louis van Gaal’s men will now face Costa Rica or Greece in the last eight in Salvador on Saturday.

The Netherlands had been disrupted by an early injury to Nigel de Jong as he hobbled off to be replaced by Bruno Martins Indi.

Mexico’s Hector Herrera then had the clearest opening of the first 45 minutes as he collected Oribe Peralta’s pass on the edge of the area and cut inside before dragging a right-foot shot inches wide.

Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen was then forced into his first save of the afternoon by a long-range effort from Carlos Salcido.

The Netherlands didn’t register an effort on target until the 26th minute when Robin van Persie skewed wide form a narrow angle after collecting Stefan de Vrij’s pass inside the area.

Both sides were then handed the chance to cool off for three minutes at the half-hour mark for the first time at a World Cup due to the searing temperatures.

Cillessen then made a fine stop to prevent dos Santos opening the scoring with a low effort.

However, the Netherlands were left aggrieved just a minute before the break when Robben appeared to have been clipped by Hector Moreno inside the area.

Mexico got off to a flying start in the second-half as Dos Santos held off a challenge from Daley Blind to thump home his first international goal in a competitive match for two years from 25 yards.

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Oribe Peralta nearly made it 2-0 eight minutes later with a curling effort that Cillessen did well to claim at the first attempt.

Moments later it was Guillermo Ochoa who made an incredible stop to prevent Stefan de Vrij levelling as he turned the defender’s volley onto the post from point-blank range.

Sneijder then saw a deflected effort fly inches past as the Netherlands went in search of an equaliser.

Ochoa had to come to his side’s rescue again 17 minutes from time when Robben escaped the clutches of Marquez but saw his low effort turned behind by the Mexican stopper.

Dutch boss Louis van Gaal then surprisingly replaced captain Van Persie with Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

However, his decision was to prove inspired as firstly Huntelaar turned Robben’s corner in the direction of the lurking Sneijder to power home from the edge of the box on.

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And after Robben was adjudged by Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca to have been clipped by Marquez in the fourth minute of stoppage time, the Schalke striker coolly stroked home the resulting penalty to eliminate Mexico at the last 16 stage for a sixth consecutive World Cup.

 Costa Rica Hangs on to Beat Greece in Shootout 

With his team down to 10 men for nearly an hour, Keylor Navas made sure Costa Rica’s last line of defense held firm.

The goalkeeper came through with a string of stops in regulation and extra time and then made the only save in a penalty shootout to send Costa Rica through to the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday with a win over Greece.

After Navas dived to his right to push out the effort by Theofanis Gekas, Costa Rica defender Michael Umana scored the decisive spot kick for a 5-3 win in the shootout, sending the team sprinting down the pitch to embrace its goalkeeper. The game had finished 1-1 following extra time, after Greece equalized in second-half injury time.

“It was only a dream for us, a dream that became a reality,” Navas said. “A dream that was dreamt by an entire country.”

Costa Rica will play one of the tournament favorites the Netherlands in the quarterfinals on Saturday in a surprising appearance in the last eight for the small country that has a quarter of the population of Brazil’s biggest city and which hardly anyone picked to even make it past the group stage.

“To the entire people in Costa Rica, those at home and out on the streets, this is for you,” Costa Rica’s Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. “This is a people that love football and they deserve it. … We will continue fighting. We will go on. We see beautiful things.”

The victory also delighted the majority of the just over 41,000 fans in Recife as the Brazilian locals shouted for Costa Rica throughout the game and often broke out into chants of “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ticos!” — using the common nickname for Costa Ricans.

Greece was often booed.

Costa Rica went ahead in the 52nd minute with a coolly taken goal by captain Bryan Ruiz, but the game changed when Oscar Duarte clumsily lunged at Greece’s Jose Holebas in the 66th and was sent off with a second yellow card.

Pouring forward, the Greeks did beat Navas in injury time when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos smashed in a rebound to make the team’s numerical advantage eventually pay. Yet Navas kept denying the Greeks through extra time and then, crucially, when he dived, threw up a hand and pushed Gekas’ spot-kick away at the end.

“Obviously he has to be congratulated,” Greece coach Fernando Santos said of Costa Rica’s ‘keeper. “If it weren’t for (him), the results would have been different.”

Santos was sent to the stands by Australian referee Ben Williams just before the penalties and said he watched the shootout on a television inside the stadium.

“Sadness,” he said of Greece’s elimination and his last game in charge of the team. “Definitely sadness. Not much (else) goes through your mind at that time.”

The red card for Duarte changed the game — which Costa Rica had slowly begun to control — and Greece surged forward for most of the remainder of the match.

But, with the exception of Papastathopoulos’ goal, they just couldn’t get past Navas as shot after shot was blocked. Greece had 13 shots on target to Costa Rica’s two.

Navas smothered a volley from Dimitris Salpingidis from point-blank range in the first half. After the equalizer, he threw himself high to tip over a header from substitute Konstantinos Mitroglou that would have surely been the winner in the dying seconds of regulation time. He then made three crucial stops in extra time, when Costas Katsouranis, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Mitroglou were all denied.

Italy and England out of World Cup While Suarez “bites” Chiellini !

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Uruguay skipper Diego Godin scored to send Italy crashing out of the World Cup Tuesday but the South Americans’ striker Luis Suarez faced a new biting storm.

Costa Rica’s drab 0-0 draw with England ensured that the Central Americans finished top of Group D.

Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 in the tense match in which the Europeans ended with 10-men and left the World Cup at the group phase for the second time in succession.

But amid the celebrations, immediate attention fell on a clash between Suarez and Italian defender Ciorgio Chiellini, who showed teeth marks in his shoulder after.

Television replays showed Suarez – who has twice been sanctioned for biting players – appearing to attempt to sink his teeth into Chiellini’s shoulder in an off-the-ball incident.

Chiellini was in no doubt Suarez – who was seen sitting on the ground feeling his teeth after the incident – had bitten him.

“He bit me it’s clear I still have the mark,” said an aggrieved Chiellini.

Italy won the 2006 World Cup, then failed to reach the last 16 in South Africa four years ago. They required only a draw against Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas in Natal to go through this time.

However, the Azzurri suffered a critical blow early in the second half when Claudio Marchisio was sent off for a studs-up challenge.

Soon after the Suarez-Chiellini incident, Godin rose in a crowded box and the ball rebounded off his shoulder to beat Buffon in the 81st minute.

Uruguay’s win means they leapfrog Italy to join Costa Rica in the last 16 of the tournament.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli deployed a 3-5-2 designed to tighten the Azzurri defense and give them attacking options on the wings with Matteo Darmian and Mattia De Sciglio.

But despite a solid display in a scoreless first-half, the Azzurri’s hunt for goals – led by Ciro Immobile and Mario Balotelli – reaped no reward.

On the half hour Marco Veratti dispossessed Cavani to launch Balotelli but the striker failed to release as Immobile ran through into an offside position.

Minutes later Andrea Pirlo’s smart short pass found De Sciglio on the left but the wingback’s pinpoint delivery to unmarked Immobile was volleyed off target.

Italy were composed, but minutes before halftime Buffon had to make two critical saves to keep the score sheet clean, first stopping Suarez’s snap-shot down low with his left arm and then denying Nicolas Lodeiro from the follow-up.

Prandelli replaced Balotelli with midfielder Parolo at halftime, a tactical switch that suggested the Azzurri would happily hold on for the scoreless draw.

On 58 minutes Cristian Rodriguez sent a great chance wide of the target after a smart one-two with Suarez on the left flank.

Moments later, Marchisio was given his marching orders for his challenge on Egidio Arevalo.

The decision had the expected impact, and after Suarez burst through confidently on 65 minutes Buffon had to get down low to block with his arm.

Italy were still finding space, though, and a Pirlo through ball found Immobile only for the striker to be charged down as he was about to pull the trigger.

Prandelli replaced Immobile with Cassano, but despite Italy again finding opportunities on the counter Uruguay’s insistence deep in Italian territory finally paid off.

The hosts gave away a corner, which Godin met with conviction to leave Buffon with no chance.

Italy rallied in desperation in the dying minutes, when Buffon ran up the field to leave his net empty, but to no avail.

Late goal rescues Portugal against USA and Belgium against Russia, While Algeria upsets South Korea with 4 goals!

A superb header by Silvestre Varela deep into time added on saved world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal from crashing out of the World Cup finals on Sunday as it secured a 2-2 draw with the United States.

The Americans had looked to be safely into the last 16 after second-half goals by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey saw them come back from 1-0 down – a goal by Nani – to lead.

However, with only seconds remaining one sublime cross from a pretty anonymous Ronaldo was met by Varela and it soared past Tim Howard to give Portugal a lifeline as a further defeat after the 4-0 hammering by Germany in the opening game would have seen them out.

The United States – who reached the last 16 in 2010 only to lose to Ghana – are on four points along with Germany, who they play in their final group game, and who their coach Jurgen Klinsmann led at the 2006 finals.

Ghana and Portugal both have one point and play also on Thursday.

Klinsmann, who was also within seconds of being the first coach to guide the USA to two successive wins at a finals since 1930, was phlegmatic about the dramatic dashing of their hopes.

“Obviously the last second is unfortunate but my guys were magnificent,” said Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup as a player.

“We just have to get a result against Germany. Obviously the Germans have a day more to recover and we have had further to travel for our game but then the big guys are the ones that get the favourite treatment.

“My guys went to the limit but now they have to pick themselves up and despite this result we will go into the game with a lot of confidence.”

The Portuguese got just the start they needed to settle their nerves as a terrible defensive error by Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron – the ball flying off his boot to Nani — saw the Manchester United winger wait for Howard to commit himself before rifling the ball into the net.

It had been preempted by an outrageous piece of skill by Ronaldo down the left side, completely bewitching three American players as they tried to corral him out on the touchline, only for a series of step overs and a backheel to see him squirm through the three of them.

Conditions even in the evening were so draining that five minutes from the break, when Jermaine Jones received some treatment, the referee allowed both sides to rehydrate with a drinks break.

Howard, who was earning his 102nd cap, kept his side in the game on the stroke of half-time as he somehow managed to stick a hand out as he dived the wrong way to tip a pointblank shot by Eder over the bar.

There was an even finer block the other end 10 minutes into the second-half as Bradley’s goalbound effort from only 10 yards out saw defender Ricardo Costa spread himself deflect the ball off his knee for a corner, earning a well deserved kiss on the head from goalkeeper Beto.

The Americans, though, deservedly levelled in the 64th minute as Jones produced a pearler of a right-footed shot from outside the area, leaving Beto rooted to the spot.

Ronaldo and the Portuguese appeared shellshocked and it was the Americans who grabbed a second as Bradley’s shot rebounded to Graham Zusi off a defender and his cross was put into the net by Dempsey’s stomach for his fourth goal at a World Cup finals.

That looked to be that until, like Lionel Messi with his late goal against Iran on Saturday, Ronaldo summoned up one piece of class with his pinpoint cross, which was enough to break American hearts.

 

Belgium beat Russia with late goal

Teenage substitute Divock Origi slammed a last-gasp goal Sunday to secure Belgium a 1-0 victory over Russia and a place in the World Cup’s last 16.

The win was a new step in Belgium’s emergence as a European power, 12 years after their last appearance at the World Cup finals. Russia, who are to host the 2018 finals, have a growing qualification mountain in front of them.

The 19-year-old Origi who plays with Lille in France came on for Romelu Lukaku as the frustrating Group H game seemed destined to end in stalemate until the 88th minute goal.

Seconds after fellow substitute Kevin Mirallas had hit Igor Akinfeev’s post with a free kick, Eden Hazard burst down the left past two defenders and pulled the ball back for Origi to hit into the net from close range.

The win left Belgium as clear Group H leaders with a maximum six points from two games after their 2-1 win over Algeria.

Russia are in danger of going out having started with a draw against South Korea following a huge blunder by keeper Igor Akinfeev.

Now coach Fabio Capello must rally the troops for a do or die contest against Algeria in the last game of the first round group on Thursday.

Belgium and Russia made a bright start and the opening minutes saw chances at both ends.

Victor Fayzulin, a Zenit St Petersburg midfielder full of running, swept into the the box and fired in a low effort that Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois smartly stopped low to his right

The Belgians, coached by Marc Wilmots, who scored in a 3-2 win for his country in a 2002 group meeting against Russia, responded as Dries Mertens pulled the midfield strings.

Mertens accelerated into the danger zone only to thump an effort wide of the right hand post of Akinfeev, retained despite his butterfingers mistake against the Koreans in Cuiaba.

Mertens drilled another effort wide as the Belgians, semi-finalists in 1986 when they were finally undone by Diego Maradona, turned the screw.

With the runners-up in the group likely to face Germany, assuming the three-time champions top their group, there was every incentive for both sides to chase the win.

Russia enjoyed a purple patch as the opening half came to an end, Fayzulin smacking a volley just over following a corner.

Denis Glushakov, booked for clattering Merhrtens, then crossed for Alexander Kokorin, who avoided being the meat in a Vertonghen-Vincent Kompany sandwich but sent a free header off target.

 Algeria upset South Korea in six-goal thriller

Algeria ended their win-less World Cup run in style as they hammered South Korea 4-2 to keep their dream of a place in the knockout stages very much alive.

The Desert Warriors attacked from the kick off and should have had a penalty inside 10 minutes whenSofiane Feghouli was felled in the area.

But they didn’t have too long to wait to celebrate as Slimani rampaged onto Carl Medjani’s ball over the top, held off two defenders and clipped a neat finish beyond Jung Sung-ryong.

It was a moment of pure ecstasy for the Algerians and just two minutes later they were propelled into dreamland as Fulham reject Rafik Halliche rose highest to thump home a header from a left-wing corner.

The South Koreans had no answer to the vibrant play of Vahid Halilhodzic’s side and it was three just seven minutes before the break when Slimani made the most of a long ball and coolly rolled it to Abdelmoumen Djabou to steer past the keeper.

The Taeguk Warriors responded after the break and pulled one back through Son-Heung Min’s superb turn and shot before Yacine Brahimi restored the three-goal advantage with a low finish after exchanging a wonderful one-two.

South Korea kept going and Koo Ja-cheol diverted home with 18 minutes left but Algeria held on to claim their first World Cup win since 1982 and become the first ever African side to score four goals in a finals match.

Germany vs. Portugal: 4-0 Müller nets hat-trick as Die Mannschaft cruise to victory and John Brooks Leads United States Past Ghana 2-1!

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Germany started their World Cup campaign with a dominant 4-0 win over 10-man Portugal in Salvador. Thomas Müller netted a hat-trick en route to their massive victory, with Die Mannschaftputting their opponents to the sword after the Selecção had defender Pepe sent off in the first half.

Despite Germany’s eventual dominance, the game actually started quite evenly. Cristiano Ronaldo was denied by the shins of Manuel Neuer, seconds before Sami Khedira missed an open goal from distance after Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patrício made a sloppy giveaway from his own box. Both sides looked rather unconvincing defensively, and given the top class attacking talent on show, an opening goal felt imminent.

So it proved, with Germany’s Thomas Müller breaking the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 11th minute after João Pereira ended a swift German counter-attack by tugging Mario Götze down in the box. There was still no sign of a Portugal collapse, even when they went two down after the half-hour. A corner fromToni Kroos was powered into the back of the net by Mats Hummels, doubling Die Mannschaft‘s advantage with another set-piece goal.

Fábio Coentrão had Portugal’s best chance within three minutes of Germany’s second, though caught in two minds as to whether to cross or shoot from a tight angle, his tame effort was poked behind for a corner. Things only really started getting ugly a couple of minutes later, when notoriously temperamental defender Pepe raised his arm to the face of Müller and earned a red card for headbutting him once he theatrically hit the deck.

With their numerical superiority, Germany suddenly looked in total control. They all but sealed the points in stoppage time at the end of the first half, when a deep cross from Toni Kroos was chested down in the penalty area and promptly dispatched by Müller.

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Germany should have netted a fourth within minutes of the restart, when Mesut Özil found himself clean through on Patrício’s penalty area. However, he delayed his shot, giving the Portugal keeper enough time to get down and deny him in the one-on-one. Unfortunately that only proved to be a brief break in Portugal’s misery, which continued when left-back Coentrão was stretchered off just past the hour.hi-res-6bf9d31632d80d1bef51470a626a27ab_crop_exact

Meanwhile, Germany looked like they were participating in a training ground possession exercise. They appeared capable of breaking through the Portuguese ranks at will, and they did so with about 20 minutes remaining, only for Götze to hesitate and allow the defence to recover position. Nevertheless, Germany did eventually add a fourth with 10 minutes remaining; Patricío allowing an André Schürrle cross to squirm out for Müller to poke home.

Cristiano Ronaldo almost produced a spectacular consolation with a powerful free-kick in stoppage time, though Neuer parried his stinging effort.

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Germany: Neuer; Höwedes, Hummels (Mustafi 73′), Mertesacker, Boateng; Khedira, Lahm, Kroos; Götze, Özil (Schürrle 63′), Müller (Podolski 82′).

Goals: Müller (pen. 12′, 45+1′, 78′) (Hummels 32′).

Portugal: Patrício; Coentrão (A. Almeida 65′), Alves, Pepe, Pereira; Meireles, Veloso (Costa 46′), Moutinho; Ronaldo, H. Almeida (Éder 28′), Nani.

USA 2-1 Ghana

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It began with the magical. It ended with the miraculous.

John Brooks, a 21-year-old German-American making his competitive debut for the United States, who was on the field only because a starting fullback was hurt, powered a fierce header into the net in the 86th minute Monday to give the United States a 2-1 victory over Ghana in its first match of the World Cup.

Afterward, Brooks said that he had dreamed nearly the exact situation two nights ago, the only difference being that in his imagination, he scored in the 80th minute. He did not seem particularly bothered by reality’s six-minute delay.

“It was my first dream,” he said softly, “hopefully not my last.”

Brooks’s header was the dramatic coda to an evening that was a jackhammer of emotions. It opened with exuberance from the Americans after Clint Dempsey scored inside 30 seconds. That was followed by about 80 minutes of nervy, anxious nail-biting as two key players were lost to injury and Ghana pounded at the United States goal. Then came a few moments of disappointment after Ghana tied the game. And finally, there was Brooks, rising to meet Graham Zusi’s corner kick and covering the United States with the warm glow of an upset victory.

The Americans still have a considerable road to navigate to reach the knockout rounds with group games yet to play against Portugal (on Sunday) and Germany (on June 26). Any hope of advancement, though, was predicated on a positive result here. And the United States got one.

“The response after they scored was really good,”midfielder Michael Bradley said. “You looked around and still felt like there was more in it.”

At the final whistle, Coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who had not hesitated to liken this game to a final in terms of importance, ran onto the field, a smile wide across his face. The Ghana players, aware of how critical 3 points here were, sank to the ground in anguish.

“The feelings are just incredible,” the American defender Matt Besler said.

It was that way from the start. Just moments after the game kicked off, Dempsey, the United States captain, saw a pass come his way and let it run, stepping over the ball with his foot before tapping it forward with the inside of his right heel. It was a stylish move, dripping with confidence. The ball now in front of him, Dempsey bore in on goal.

One Ghana player ran across him. Then another. Dempsey cut to the inside and, with a quick finish, suddenly stroked the ball past the goalkeeper and in off the post. Klinsmann and the entire United States bench erupted. In their first game of the World Cup, in a group of sharks, the Americans were leading in roughly the time it takes to mix a caipirinha. Twenty-nine seconds was all that ticked off the clock, the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history.

“I saw that there was space,” Dempsey said, “and I just tried to hit it as hard as I could.”

As the ball settled into the back of the net, Dempsey took off running. Klinsmann threw his hands in the air. The American fans, who looked to make up half of the crowd of 39,760 at Arena das Dunas, danced in the aisles as the United States was suddenly in the lead.

But the Americans could not maintain their pace. In truth, most of the rest of the game was maddening for the United States as Ghana bossed the ball around the field. Frustration turned to sadness, too, when Jozy Altidore, one of Klinsmann’s top strikers, looked to sustain a serious leg injury. Altidore reached down and grabbed the back of his leg as he sprinted for a ball down the sideline in the 21st minute, a telltale sign of real pain. Klinsmann cradled Altidore’s head in his fingers just before Altidore was taken off on a stretcher, his World Cup participation now murky because of a strained hamstring.

“I was crushed,” Altidore said. “I knew right away I couldn’t continue. It was the worst feeling.”

Things did not improve for the Americans as the minutes passed. Ghana, which eliminated the United States in each of the past two World Cups, hammered on the Americans. Kyle Beckerman was floored by a brutal elbow to the head from Mohammed Rabiu (who was cautioned). Dempsey went down, blood pouring from his nose, after taking a shin to the face from John Boye (who got away undisciplined).

Dempsey played the rest of the game despite struggling to breathe through his nose, saying afterward that he was “coughing up blood a little bit.”

John Brooks (6), playing in his first World Cup game, after his header into the net lifted the U.S. over Ghana, 2-1.CreditStefano Rellandini/Reuters

Alejandro Bedoya also looked bothered by a leg injury and so, too, did Besler, one of the two starting central defenders. With Ghana controlling possession and pushing, Klinsmann did not want to risk a gimpy defense, so he pulled Besler at halftime as a precaution. Brooks was the replacement.

The American back line held off Ghana until the 82nd minute. That was when André Ayew beat Tim Howard at the near post from close range.

Deflated as the Americans may have been, they also knew that a tie would still be a good result. Yet Brooks wanted more. And when Zusi’s penetrating corner swung in, the 6-foot-4 Brooks met the ball ferociously, blasting it down and bouncing it past Adam Kwarasey in Ghana’s goal.

Brooks sprinted toward the corner flag and collapsed, as if in a daze. Then he pounded his hands into the ground.

“If you score after just one minute,” Klinsmann said, “you think there can’t be anything better than that.”

But there was. It was something from a dream.