Brave USA Eliminate Spain From Confederations Cup

The USA have qualified for the Confederations Cup final after stunning favourites Spain with a deserved win in Bloemfontein. Jozy Altidore took advantage of a horrible defensive error from Joan Capdevila to smash home an opener in the first period before Clint Dempsey sealed victory in the second period. This serves as Spain's first competitive defeat since a 2-0 loss to Sweden in October 2006, and their first overall since November of that year. It is also the first time Spain have failed to win in 25 games. Moreover, the United States, having stood within minutes of elimination in the group stage, now reach a major final after shocking the world's number one ranked team. On the balance of play, the USA deserved their win. Notwithstanding a needless booking for Landon Donovan, the Americans looked by far the better side in the early stages, Hammarby's Charlie Davies coming close with an overhead kick before Clint Dempsey shot narrowly wide. At the other end Spain were largely restricted to half chances, the USA's deep defending game successfully frustrating the Roja as the likes of Xavi failed to thread through that final ball. The USA duly took advantage. Clint Dempsey flicked the ball on to Jozy Altidore 25 yards out, and the strong Villarreal forward turned his team-mate, Joan Capdevila, with consummate ease, the defender completely failing to react correctly. Then came the shot, and though it was in the direction of the 'keeper, Iker Casillas was already committed the other way, so the ball deflected in off him and the inside of the post. Spain attempted to fight back but once again were unable to carve out too many opportunities: those that they did were squandered as David Villa and Fernando Torres uncharacteristically chose the wrong option heading into the break. After the interval, though, Spain improved markedly, and it was largely down to defensive heroics from goalkeeper Tim Howard and stoppers Oguchi Onyewu and Jonathan Spector. Indeed, long-range efforts were coming thick and fast, Xavi and Albert Riera looking especially active, and Sergio Ramos was making hay down the flank as well. But the United States defended deep, and were rewarded 20 minutes from time. Landon Donovan's low cross from the right wasn't dealt with by the onrushing Gerard Pique, and Sergio Ramos, too, hesitated rather than clearing, allowing Clint Dempsey to poke home the second. Spain continued to press, Michael Bradley's red card for a studs-up challenge on Xavi posing a few problems for the Americans, but the damage had been done. Thus the USA, who had been all but ruled out of contention for even a semi-final spot, will contest the final in Johannesburg. Vicente del Bosque suffers his first defeat as Spain boss, meanwhile, and is compelled to re-think ahead of the World Cup qualifiers later in the year.


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