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United States celebrate huge victory over Spain

Brilliant tactics helped the United States pull off a stunning 2-0 win over Spain and reach the Confederations Cup final, something coach Bob Bradley described as huge.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Bloemfontein
UPDATED ON JUN 25, 2009 10:42 AM IST

Brilliant tactics helped the United States pull off a stunning 2-0 win over Spain and reach the Confederations Cup final, something coach Bob Bradley described as huge.

A first half strike from Villarreal's Jozy Altidore and another 16 minutes from time by Fulham's Clint Dempsey did the damage on Wednesday in what will go down as one of the biggest victories in US football history.

They also had a flawless performance by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and a commendable defensive display to thank for earning them a shot at the trophy on Sunday against either Brazil or hosts South Africa.

"When you play Spain you certainly have to work very hard as a group to defend. We made a special point to close down Xavi as best we could to prevent his penetrative passes," said Bradley.

"We felt strongly that when we got the ball we needed to be aggressive and have the confidence that we could keep the ball and move it.

"We did a very good job of sealing down the middle of the field. Our backline did very well. It was a team effort to just try and make sure our defending was good and look for moments to score."

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque admitted his side were outfoxed.

"We faced a team that played with good energy, was good in attack and was fast. We were surprised. The entire team was very dangerous for us," he said.

"We are in the world of sport and it was a strong rival and I cannot be unhappy with the effort made by the team. We did everything we could."

It was a remarkable upset on a freezing night that not only ended Spain's record of 15 consecutive wins but also prevented them from surpassing Brazil's 35-match unbeaten run.

Spain will have to be content with going into the history books level with the South Americans after their first loss since November 15, 2006.

"For us it's a big night, huge," added Bradley.

"We're excited to be in the final and when you're there you have chance to win. The motivation will be very high."

Spain had won all three previous encounters but the United States' miracle run to the last four, qualifying on goals scored after finishing level with Italy on goal difference, showed they could not be understimated.

Spain had the first chance of the match but the US weren't sitting back and Charlie Davies sent a spectacular bicycle kick flashing just wide.

With Dempsey firing a long range drive close soon after it was clear they meant business.

At the other end Cesc Fabregas sent a cross in from the left which Fernando Torres volleyed just past the post.

They combined superbly again shortly after with the Liverpool striker forcing a fine one-handed save from his Merseyside rival Howard.

But in a major shock the US took the lead on 27 minutes when the powerful Altidore muscled past Joan Capdevila and Carles Puyol with Iker Casillas unable to prevent his shot finding the back of the net.

It was only the third goal Spain had conceded in 16 games.

Spain were in trouble but bounced back with a hatful of chances with Torres and Sergio Ramos in the thick of the action only for heroic defending to deny them.

They went to the break losing 1-0 and in need of something special.

David Villa almost provided it soon after the restart when he let rip from just inside the box but Howard turned it round the post.

They threw all they had at the Americans but captain Carlos Bocanegra and his defensive partners held firm and against the run of play they scored a second.

LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan sent a cross in from the right and errors by Gerald Pique and Ramos allowed Dempsey to hustle the ball over the line for a famous victory.

Brazil and South Africa play their semi-final on Thursday.

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