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 U.S. is in second place, level with Germany on four points. Portugal is tied with Ghana on one point and faces 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 U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann.
The Americans face Germany in the final game at noon Thursday 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.
The U.S. 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 their 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 U.S. 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 86 degrees 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 U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard.
As the second half progressed the Portuguese wilted and it was little surprise when U.S. 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 tie the game.
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 U.S. 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.
Belgium, Algeria post wins
CUIABA, Brazil — Highly-fancied Belgium booked a place in the World Cup last 16 with a late goal in a pedestrian 1-0 win over Russia leaving Algeria to light up Group H by routing South Korea 4-2 with a scoring spree.
Belgium teenager Divock Origi became the youngest scorer so far at this tournament when he secured victory with a sharp shot into the roof of the Russia net from Eden Hazard’s devastating run down the left and pinpoint cutback.
Algeria, which lost 2-1 to Belgium in their first match, tore the ramshackle Koreans apart, scoring the highest number of goals by an African team in a World Cup match.
It was the joint second-highest scoring match of the Brazil finals so far after France’s 5-2 victory over Switzerland and equalled the Netherlands’ 5-1 thumping of title holders Spain.
Islam Slimani and Rafik Halliche stunned the Koreans with two goals in two minutes and Abdelmoumene Djabou added a third to give Algeria a 3-0 lead at the interval.
Algeria became the third team to score three first-half goals at this tournament after Germany in its 4-0 win over Portugal and France in its rout of the Swiss.
South Korea pulled one back through Son Heung-min, who turned to shoot between goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi’s legs in the 50th minute.
Yacine Brahimi scored the goal that set the African record just after the hour and took the steam out of the Korea rally before Koo Ja-cheol pulled another goal back.
Algeria go into its last group match against Russia on Thursday in second place with three points, two more than both Fabio Capello’s side and the Koreans, looking to reach the last 16 for the first time.
“We did analyze the strategies but the result was such that I could say it was not well done,” South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo told reporters.
“The result speaks for itself… Since we conceded a lot of goals, there was a strategic mistake on our part.”