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US halts Spain's unbeaten run

THE United States, which was all but eliminated from the Confederations Cup last Sunday, was still coming to terms with its place in the final after Wednesday's astonishing defeat of Spain.

Its stunning 2-0 win over the European champions in the semifinal completed one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of any FIFA competition. It now faces either host South Africa or five-time world champion Brazil in Sunday's showpiece finale in Johannesburg.

Goals from 19-year-old Jozy Altidore and striker Clint Dempsey gave the Americans a deserved win over the jaded looking Spaniards, who were on a world record run of 15 successive wins and went into the match unbeaten for 35 games.

Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque had won all 13 games in charge of FIFA's No. 1 ranked side since he took over after last year's European championship triumph.

Despite being 14th in the FIFA list, the US is still outsiders in world soccer, achieving its ranking largely by virtue of being a big fish in the shallow CONCACAF pond where minnows like the British Virgin Islands and Belize abound.

"That might be right," skipper Carlos Bocanegra said. "But no one can take this victory away from us.

"We deserved it. We defended brilliantly, we were sharper in the tackle, we stopped everything they threw at us, we worked as a team. We were going home last Sunday, now we are going to the final, and we deserve to be there."

No points

After losing its opening two matches to Italy and Brazil, it went into last Sunday's final Group B match with no points and a goal difference of minus five.

It only had the slimmest mathematical chance of qualifying but its 3-0 win over Egypt, along with Brazil's 3-0 win over Italy, saw it squeak through on goals scored.

Coach Bob Bradley had said before the match that his team could beat Spain by playing direct, committed football.

Spain peppered the American goal with 29 shots and when keeper Tim Howard wasn't stopping eight of them, many were being blocked by his lunging defenders.

The US clogged Spain's flowing attack by shoring up the midfield and forced the Spanish to take their one-touch attack to the wings instead.

Spain striker Fernando Torres said the US played fantastic in front of Howard. "Maybe it wasn't our best performance but you can't take away from what the US did. They attacked and defended well and scored the goals they needed," Torres said. "I don't know if they deserved to win but they won and in the end that's what matters."


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