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USA stuns top-ranked Spain in Confederation's Cup semi

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - The United States stunnedtop-ranked Spain 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Jozy Altidore andClint Dempsey, advancing to the Confederations Cup final with oneof the Americans' biggest soccer victories.

Altidore scored in the 27th minute and Dempsey added a goal inthe 74th as the Americans became the first team to defeat Spainsince Romania in November 2006.

The chances of such a U.S. victory seemed slim just a few daysago. The 14th-ranked Americans lost their first two games in theConfederations Cup, an eight-nation World Cup warmup, and were onthe verge of elimination.

Now they will play defending champion Brazil or host SouthAfrica on Sunday in its first-ever men's final at a FIFAcompetition.

Spain, the European champion, had set an international recordwith 15 straight victories and was trying to stretch its unbeatenstreak to 36, breaking the mark set by Brazil from December 1993 toJanuary 1996.

But American goalkeeper Tim Howard came up with several bigsaves and Altidore got the first goal when he outmuscled JoanCapdevila, his teammate on Spain's Villarreal to beat goalkeeperIker Casillas. Dempsey scored when he pounced on Landon Donovan'scross, which bounced off the foot of Sergio Ramos.

Midfielder Michael Bradley, the son of U.S. coach Bob Bradley,will miss the final. He received the Americans' third red card ofthe tournament for a late sliding tackle in the 87th minute.

The U.S. had been 1-7-1 against top-ranked teams, beating Brazilin the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup and tying Argentina last summer in anexhibition at Giants Stadium. When the United States upset Brazil,goalkeeper Kasey Keller had an outstanding game, just as Howarddid.

The Americans were boosted by the return of captain CarlosBocanegra, who had been sidelined since injuring a hamstring duringa World Cup qualifier on June 6. He played left back instead ofcentral defense.

The United States had lost its three previous matches againstSpain, 3-1 in the first round of the 1950 World Cup, 2-0 in a 1992exhibition at Valladolid and 1-0 in an exhibition on June 4 lastyear at Santander.


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