JOHANNESBURG, June 22 – The United States staged a remarkable comeback to outclass Egypt 3-0 Sunday and join Brazil in the Confederations Cup semi-finals.
Pointless and minus-five on goal difference, the Americans appeared down and out ahead of the final Group B fixture in Rustenburg against Egyptian opponents who had upset world champions Italy in midweek.
But a goal midway through the first half from Charlie Davies and two more within nine minutes after half-time by Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey gave the USA an unexpectedly comfortable triumph.
And with Italy slumping again – 3-0 to dominant Brazil before a sell-out Pretoria crowd – the Americans squeezed through on goals scored having shared a minus-two goal difference with the Azzurri.
Egypt also collected three points, but a minus-three difference meant the team that lost in stoppage time to Brazil before stunning Italy finished bottom of the table after a thrilling climax to the group phase.
Spain, who topped Group A Saturday after a world record 15th consective win, will face the USA in Bloemfontein Wednesday with South Africa tackling Brazil in Johannesburg 24 hours later.
Form suggests a dream finale to the 2010 World Cup dress rehearsal next Sunday between Brazil and Spain while the host nation and the USA fight for third place and bronze medals.
Egypt goalkeeper Essam al-Hadary, a hero against Italy, gifted USA their first goal by fumbling a cross and allowing Davies to poke the ball over the line from an acute angle.
Bradley, son of coach Bob, got the second on 63 minutes and Dempsey the third before surviving a late ‘Pharaohs’ onslaught in which unmarked defender Wael Gomaa headed over.
So close was the second-place contest that if Egypt had snatched a consolation goal they would have sneaked through and the same applied to Italy, who began so well last weekend with a come-from-behind victory over USA.
The Americans had achieved the seemingly impossible and taken the spotlight away from the big match of the group phase at Loftus Versfeld that Brazil controlled after a cagey opening spell.
Brazil inflicted all the damage late in the first half wth Luis Fabiano scoring twice before Andrea Dossena turned a Robinho cross past Gianluigi Buffon into his own net.
Italy saw more of the ball in the second half as the title holders took their foot off the accelerator, but the goal that would have set up a game against Spain eluded them.
The last time Spain failed to win was at Euro 2008 when they edged Italy on penalties after 120 goalless minutes.