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Fulham star Dempsey scores crucial USA goal

last updated Monday 22nd June 2009, 9:54 AM

Fulham star Clint Dempsey
Fulham star Clint Dempsey
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Fulham USA star Clint Dempsey scored the crucial goal that helped the United States qualify for the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup in extraordinary circumstances with their victory over Egypt and Italy's heavy defeat to Brazil seeing them through to the last four.

The States had lost their two previous games in South Africa and needed a win, a Brazil victory and a six-goal swing over Italy to advance.

And that is exactly what happened as Bob Bradley's men pulled off the unthinkable, winning 3-0 against Egypt.

In a dramatic finale to Group B, the U.S. went through in second place on more goals scored than world champions Italy, who lost 3-0 to Brazil in Pretoria.

The U.S. finished with a goal difference of minus two along with the Italians but scored four goals in the group to Italy's three.

Budweiser Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey (USA)(FIFA.com)

 A versatile, battling performance from the USA's Clint Dempsey in the shock 3-0 win over Egypt was enough to earn the Fulham striker the Budweiser Man of the Match award.

In addition to an all-around fine performance, Dempsey scored the USA's third goal, the one they needed to push them into the semi-finals, where they will meet Spain.

TSG (FIFA's Technical Study Group) member Holger Osieck, a former assistant coach of Germany's 1990 FIFA World Cup™ winning team, had this to say about the game's stand-out player.

"He (Dempsey) started in his usual wide position, but later in the game the coach moved him into a traditional striker's role. He did brilliantly in the position, winning nearly every ball in the air, keeping possession and working hard.
The goal he scored was crucial and he was the best man on the pitch."
The Americans now play Spain in the first semi-final on Wednesday. Egypt were last in the standings with a goal difference of minus three.

It was an amazing comeback by the U.S., made almost surreal by a crowd seemingly oblivious of the unfolding permutations.

The U.S. had started the day in last place after two defeats in their first round matches, scoring a single goal and conceding six, and only a fervent fan would have given them a chance to making the final four.

A scrambled goal by Charlie Davies in the 21st minute gave the U.S. a deserved half-time lead after a busy opening period but they entered the field for the second half with extra vigour, having learnt that Brazil were 3-0 up on Italy.

The Americans, who suffered two harsh dismissals in their two previous matches, must have thought their hard luck was continuing when the New Zealand referee Michael Hester waved away appeals after a shot from Jozy Altidore was clearly handled off the line by Hani Said six minutes into the second half.

But they continued to press forward and captain Landon Donovan dragged a square pass into the path of Michael Bradley for the second goal, at the culmination of a move that the Americans had started in their half.

The 63rd-minute strike was followed eight minutes later by a third and decisive goal as Clint Dempsey got his head to a cross from Jonathan Spector.

Egypt threatened rarely after that and looked a pale shadow of the team that had beaten Italy on Thursday and narrowly lost to Brazil in a seven-goal thriller last Monday.

The absence of injured striker Mohamed Zidan proved costly although the African champions did have the early initiative, including a bizarre goalmouth scramble in the 13th minute when the ball ricocheted around as if in a pinball machine.

Source Mark Gleeson at The Guardian
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