With the last round of group stage matches of the World Cup nearly upon us, the pressure is on for every team remaining in the running to advance.
One of those teams taking the pitch yet again on Sunday was the U.S. National Team, who take on Portugal on Day 11. As the entire nation watches, the Stars and Stripes will look to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.
Five countries came into the day with spots already clinched into the next round, with Belgium adding their name to the list with a win over Russia. The Red Devils used a late goal to advance thanks to an unlikely player that made history.
Day 11 of the World Cup has already started, so here's a look at the updated group tables and results for Sunday's action.
|Group||Team 1||Result/Time (ET)||Team 2|
Belgium 1, Russia 0
Coming into the World Cup, Belgium were seen as one of the dark horses to contend for the title. After two matches, the Red Devils are at least through the first part of the run.
Belgium took a huge win over Russia to advance, as the team's official Twitter account notes:
While the Belgians won their second match of the young tournament, it wasn't an easy victory for the Red Devils.
Russia was unable to notch a goal in the match but once again proved to be a difficult team to put away. The Russians had several opportunities but couldn't finish on any of those chances.
Much of the match was relatively even for both sides, as FIFA World Cup notes:
The close of the match brought plenty of intrigue with Belgium securing the win, but it certainly wasn't always thrilling. Neither club came away with goals through the first half or even created great opportunities.
Fernando Duarte of The Guardian points out the crowd's reaction at the Brazil stadium during the match:
Crowd shouting "second division" to express their boredom here in Rio.— Fernando Duarte (@Fernando_Duarte) June 22, 2014
But when things finally heated up, it was a substitute for the Red Devils who pulled through.
Divock Origi, who had earlier replaced the disappointing Romelu Lukaku, broke through defenders for the lone goal of the match, notching his first goal of the World Cup and making history in the process. Bleacher Report UK provides a link to the goal and ESPN Stats & Info notes the historic significance:
At 19 yrs, 65 days old, Divock Origi is the youngest goalscorer in #BEL World Cup history. Previous youngest was Stephane Demol (20y, 96d).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 22, 2014
With the win, the Belgians are through to the knockout stage for the first time since 2002. Though they haven't advanced to the next stage since 1986, it appears the Red Devils could be part of more history during this year's World Cup.
Algeria 4, South Korea 2
Following a match that saw limited action, the middle contest on Sunday brought plenty of it.
The first 25 minutes of the match were spent trading off possession between the two clubs, but just after that the game kicked into life. Islam Slimani notched the first goal of the match for Algeria, shortly followed by a Rafik Halliche header that found the back of the net.
BBC Sport provides its thoughts on Halliche's goal, which gave the Algerians a commanding lead:
Just 10 minutes later, the Algerians continued the onslaught with yet another goal. Abdelmoumene Djabou seemingly all but secured the match for his team before the half with the third strike.
ESPN FC gives a look at the outstanding goal from Djabou:
Though the Algerians came out of the half with a huge lead over South Korea, the Taegeuk Warriors would not go away quietly.
Five minutes into the second half, Son Heung Min tallied the Koreans' first goal to narrow the lead to 3-1 for Algeria, per Bleacher Report:
That margin wouldn't hold, as Yacine Brahimi put his stamp on the game with the fourth goal for Algeria in the 62nd minute.
Brahimi's goal was a significant one as it made history for an African team at the World Cup, per B/R UK:
South Korea would attempt to stage yet another comeback courtesy of Koo Jacheol, who scored the sixth goal of the game for the two teams combined. Unfortunately, Jacheol's goal wasn't followed by any other late-match heroics for the Koreans.
United States 2, Portugal 2
Alexi Lalas of ESPN said it best on the broadcast following the match, saying, "That was incredible. There was so much good, and yet that moment. Gosh, I hope it doesn't come back to haunt the U.S."
After 90 minutes of great soccer for the United States, the Stars and Stripes weren't able to nail down a victory and clinch a trip to the round of 16. Team USA were down 1-0 early after Nani punished an error from Jeff Cameron to put Portugal ahead.
Football Vines gives a look at the great start for Portugal:
The remainder of the half would be quiet on the scoring front, but still saw plenty of action. One interesting moment was when both countries were awarded a water break for the ridiculous heat in the Amazon Arena, marking the first time in World Cup history.
Following another exciting 19 minutes in the second half, Jermaine Jones put his stamp on the World Cup with his first goal of the tournament. The 32-year-old fired the ball home from the edge of the area after a corner had been cleared straight to him.
Now known by the American Outlaws as Captain America, Clint Dempsey lived up to his name yet again later in the match. Michael Bradley found Graham Zusi on the left side of the penalty area, and he squared for Dempsey, who stooped low to nudge the ball home with his stomach to give the U.S. the lead for the first time.
Dempsey's goal would hold throughout the initial 90 minutes of the match, but would not prove to be enough to secure the win.
Cristiano Ronaldo was denied on several occasions by Team USA before making the biggest impact in the final seconds of stoppage time. Silvestre Varela rose up to drill in a header after a brilliant cross by Ronaldo, as ESPN FC notes:
Here's the Varela goal from Cristiano in the final seconds that saved Portugal's World Cup hopes: http://t.co/fglWiyBDrl— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 23, 2014
Jurgen Klinsmann spoke about the unfortunate finish to the match, per Graham Parker of The Guardian:
It's unfortunate. but I think it was an amazing game. Amazing performance by our guys...Nothing more you could ask for...it was us controlling the game, setting the tempo and coming back and enough chances to score three or four goals...we were just that close. Didn't make it quite yet, but we've got to do so now against Germany...We've got to do it the tough way.
Though the match was a tough one for the U.S. to swallow on Sunday night, the club is still tied at the top of the standings in its group. For Klinsmann, it means he'll have to secure his chance at making it to the knockout stage by either a win or draw against his former team.
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