U.S. Loses to Portugal 2-2 in World Cup Heartbreaker

A last-gasp goal by Portugal's Silvestre Varela kept the American side from guaranteeing themselves a place in the next round of the World Cup.

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What looked to become one of the signature moments in American soccer history turned into a bitter pill to swallow as Portugal drove home a last-second goal against the United States on Sunday night, to keep Team USA from advancing and keep their own chances alive.

After struggling to connect all night, Cristiano Ronaldo delivered an absolutely perfect crossing pass four-and-a-half minutes into stoppage time that was headed home by teammate Silvestre Varela on what proved to be the final play of the game, snatching a tie from the jaws of defeat.

Instead of 2-1 victory that would have sent the Americans into the second round, the U.S. limped out with a crushing 2-2 tie and a much tougher road ahead.

The game looked sour from the start as the Americans gave up a goal to Portugal's Nani in the first five minutes. Yet, Team USA fought back, keeping Ronaldo and the rest of his team at bay until the 64th minute, when Jermaine Jones blasted a shot from long range to tie it.

Needing a victory to ensure a second-round berth — and to eliminate the need to grab points against Germany on Thursday — the U.S. continued to press for a winner, which they appeared to get when Clint Dempsey took a cross from Graham Zusi, bounced it off his hip and into an empty net in the 81st minute.

But while most of America was looking ahead to the next round, the referee added an unseemly five minutes of stoppage time to the 90th minute, which was just enough (barely) for Ronaldo to come to the rescue.

Now instead of the U.S. and Germany moving on, uncontested, all four teams in Group G still have a chance to advance — and all four have a chance of going home.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.