The United States were seconds away from a win, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Silvestre Varela combined to steal a draw on virtually the last kick of the ball. Nani put Portugal ahead in the first half, but a stunning strike from distance by Jermaine Jones pulled the U.S. even. Clint Dempsey scored in the 81st, but the win wasn't to be.
With the draw, the U.S. must now earn a point against Germany in the final group stage match to guarantee they make it to the Round of 16. Portugal are also still alive, but will need a win over Ghana and some help.
Portugal scores stunner
After such a great start against Ghana, things did not go nearly as well for the Americans in the early minutes against Portugal. What seemed like a pedestrian ball into the U.S. box in the fifth minute turned into a nightmare when Geoff Cameron completely botched the clearance attempt, sending the ball right to Nani, who was wide open at the far post. Nani had time to check his watch before blasting a shot past Tim Howard to put Portugal up 1-0.
In the 16th minute, starting striker Hélder Postiga was forced off after injuring his hamstring. 26-year-old Braga forward Éder took his place.
As the half continued, the U.S. began to look more confident. Clint Dempsey just missed on a free kick in the 14th minute, pushing it just over the crossbar. Michael Bradley came close twice, first in the 23rd minute when his shot from distance went a bit wide, then in the 29th minute when a low shot from outside the box rolled just wide of the far post.
The match featured the first water break on the tournament in the 39th minute. No orange slices were distributed though.
The lessons of heartbreak
Nothing makes sense, the World Cup is soul-crushing, and it's easy to forget that the United States are still very, very alive.
Things definitely slowed down more in the second half as the weather started to have more of an effect on the players. Despite a strong finish to the first half by the U.S., Portugal regained control of the match in the opening 10 minutes of the second half and put the defense under steady pressure.
The U.S. should have equalized in the 55th minute when Fabian Johnson's cross back across the box found Michael Bradley standing in front of an open net. The U.S. midfielder's shot looked sure to go in, but Ricardo Costa made a tremendous save off the line, covering for Beto who was out of position after trying to block Johnson's cross.
Cristiano Ronaldo reminded everyone that he's struggling with a knee injury in the 62nd minute when he finally got loose on the counter and had a good chance to test Tim Howard. Instead, the Real Madrid striker's shot was wildly off target, leaving Ronaldo visibly frustrated.
The U.S. finally broke through in the 64th minute after a cleared corner kick fell right to Jones 20 yards from goal. Jones took a touch to get around Nani and then unleashed a missile that left Beto frozen as it tucked inside the far post, pulling the U.S. even at 1-1.
In the 81st minute, Clint Dempsey put the U.S. in the lead with a chested down ball from short range. Graham Zusi jumped on an undealt with cross from DeAndre Yedlin, and found himself in space to the left of goal. Zusi spotted Dempsey alone in the front of Beto and put the ball in front of the striker, who used either his chest or belly to direct the ball into the net to make it 2-1.
With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Cristiano Ronaldo got free on the right and fired a perfect cross to Silvestre Varela, who blasted the ball past Howard with a diving header to even the match at 2-2.
United States: Howard, Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson, Beckerman, Jones, Zusi (Gonzalez 91'), Bradley, Bedoya (Yedlin 72'), Dempsey (Wondolowski 87')
Goals: Jones (65'), Dempsey (81')
Portugal: Beto, A. Almeida (William 46'), Bruno Alves, Costa, Pereira, Veloso, Meireles (Varela 69'), Moutinho, Ronaldo, Postiga (Éder 16'), Nani
Goals: Nani (5'), Varela (95')