World Cup 2010 - US hit back to deny Slovenia

Fri, 18 Jun 16:54:00 2010

United States staged a stirring fightback to draw 2-2 with Slovenia in the best game of the World Cup so far at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

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Slovenia looked on course to become the first team to reach the last 16 as they stormed into a 2-0 half-time lead. Valter Birsa gave them a 13th minute lead before Zlatan Ljubijankic extended the advantage three minutes before the break.

But Landon Donovan reduced the deficit three minutes after the interval and Michael Bradley equalised eight minutes from time.

And there was late controversy as referee Koman Coulibaly of Mali disallowed a Maurice Edu volley.

Hopes had been high for the States after they reached the final of the Confederations Cup in South Africa last year but they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 12 matches and went behind early on.

And it was a fabulous strike from Auxerre midfielder Birsa who picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and dispatched the ball into the corner with Everton custodian Tim Howard rooted to his spot.

The USA were pressing for an equaliser but then got caught square at the back as Milivoje Novakovic cut open the US defence with a simple through ball and Ljubijankic calmly slotted past Howard.

It came when the States were enjoying their best spell of the match with Jose Torres's curling effort pushed away by Slovenia keeper Samir Handanovic and only a superb clearance from Miso Brecko denying Donovan a tap-in from Clint Dempsey's low cross.

Bradley made a double change at the break and it was his side's talisman Donovan who took advantage of woeful defending to pull a goal back early in the second half.

Bostjan Cesar committed himself far too early allowing Donovan to run through on goal and the LA Galaxy man smashed the ball into the roof of the net from an acute angle.

Jozy Altidore and Marko Suler were having a head-to-head battle, the tall Slovenia central defender making a crucial tackle on the edge of the penalty area before running into the back of the USA striker on the edge of the penalty area and was lucky only to see yellow.

Altidore then unleashed a fierce shot on the turn straight at Handanovic before the Udinese shot stopper repelled a Bradley effort.

But it was the coach's son who got his side on level terms when a long ball was knocked down by Altidore and no-one was able to track the run of the Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder who rifled into the roof of the net.

The US could have and should have taken all three points but World Cup debutant Coulibaly chalked off Edu's goal with five minutes remaining for a seemingly innocuous offence. There was a bundle of bodies in the penalty area and replays only indicated three US players being held by Slovenian defenders.

Some of the US players surrounded the referee at full-time but they can take great heart from the recovery that keeps them firmly in contention for a place in the second round with a final Group C game against Algeria to come.

Match Facts

Slovenia v USA

Goals 2-2

1st Half Goals 2-0

Shots on Target 4-6

Shots off Target 2-6

Blocked Shots 2-1

Corners 5-4

Fouls 16-18

Offsides 3-0

Yellow Cards 4-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 77.6%-74.2%

Tackles 13-13

Tackles Success 84.6%-92.3%

Possession 49.1%-50.9%

Territorial Advantage 60.1%-39.9%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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