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World Cup Day 11: Varela (via Cristiano) breaks U.S. hearts

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Silvestre Varela’s 95th minute header kept Portugal’s World Cup dreams alive as the U.S.’s dream comeback instead ended in a 2-2 draw.

Geoff Cameron’s calamitous error gifted Nani an opening goal after just five minutes, but two second half goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey had the U.S. positioned to advance from the difficult Group G.

Cristiano Ronaldo had other ideas however – and after an otherwise terrible performance from the obviously injured superstar – delivering an inch perfect in-swinging cross that would make David Beckham proud. Silvestre Varela, having darted past Geoff Cameron (two high profile mistakes both leading to goals mask what would have been a rock solid performance), made no mistake, heading it past Tim Howard.

The irony of course, is that it comes in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. itself, gaining an improbable result against Ghana by way of a late game header.

As disappointing as the result is, there are numerous positives to take from this match: Clint Dempsey looks determined to drag this team through the groups, Fabian Johnson continues to impress bombing forward from his right-back position, a positive team-wide reaction to an early deficit and DeAndre Yedlin’s first World Cup appearance (in what might otherwise have proved an astute tactical substitution by Klinsmann).

It might seem empty now, but a 2-2 draw is still a good result, keeping the U.S. within touching distance of progressing – sadly, that will do little to ease the heartache of tonight’s result.