MANAUS, Brazil -The goals kept coming at the World Cup Sunday and - unfortunately for the U.S. - the scoring didn't stop until the last 30 seconds of its 2-2 draw with Portugal. Both teams stayed alive, while Belgium advanced and Algeria won its first World Cup game in 32 years.
No teams were eliminated Sunday, but South Korea, Russia and Portugal are on the brink.
An already successful World Cup in Brazil reached its midpoint with another thriller, players' shirts soaked through and sticky from the humid, steamy conditions in the Amazon rainforest. The Americans were moments away from clinching advancement out of the "Group of Death," when world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo made an improbable cross for Varela's diving header and equalizer.
Varela's score capped another day of goals. One third of the games - or 11 total - have featured four of more goals. Thirty-two games down, 32 to go.
"We've got a great chance in the 'Group of Death,' they say," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "I think we had one foot in the door. Realistically we've given ourselves every chance to advance. We're optimistic."
The U.S. plays Germany Thursday. The winner wins the group, and a draw advances both teams to the round of 16. Even the loser has a chance, depending on what happens in the Ghana-Portugal game.
"Every game now is getting bigger," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "Our goal is to go into the next round."
Algeria beat South Korea 4-2 earlier Sunday for its first World Cup win since 1982 and just the third victory by an African team in 10 World Cup games here. The Algerians became the first African team to score four goals in a World Cup match.
Russia's hopes of moving to the knockout stages were diminished by its 1-0 loss to Belgium in Rio de Janeiro. Belgium became the sixth country to qualify for the next stage. The others so far are the Netherlands, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica and Argentina. Cameroon, Bosnia, Australia, Spain and England are definitely out.
"It's spectacular. Everybody has prepared unbelievably well. They are sharp and fit and giving their all," Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said of the quality of play. "I haven't had that feeling had at previous World Cups. ... People aren't giving it all right up until the final minute - that's why you get these results."
John Cooper jumps in the air as Leisle Weaver cheers along with fans in the crowded Three Lions Club at Blackbaud Stadium as USA scores against Portugal in the World Cup match Sunday June 22, 2014. Grace Beahm/Staff×