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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK

Old pals punish Portugal

The United States owed their greatest World Cup win in 52 years to an old college tactic, according to goalscorer Brian McBride.

The Americans stunned Group D favourites Portugal to win 3-2, their best result since beating England in 1950.

They went 3-0 up in 36 minutes with strikes from John O'Brien and McBride sandwiching an own-goal by Portugal's Jorge Costa.

The favourites rallied after the break but could get no closer than an own-goal by Jeff Agoos.

McBride's header ultimately proved the winner, and afterwards he hailed the old college routine that created it.

" It was the defence which won the game "
Bruce Arena
USA coach

"We were joking about it in the locker room," he said.

"The ball got wide to Tony (Sanneh) and we played a Milwaukee Rampage right out of college.

"We did it a thousand times. I took a step to the near post, lost my defender and he served a beautiful ball to the back post."

Portugal were rocked by the USA's flying start, which saw them take the lead in the fourth minute.

And before the 2000 European Championship semi-finalists could regain their composure, the underdogs had built a winning lead.

McBride explained: "They are a good team but the guys came out, put the pressure on and took advantage of our chances.

"Second half, we probably sat back a little bit but bunkered in and held them off."

US coach Bruce Arena expressed his pride in his team and immediately targeted a place in the second round.

"I compliment all our players, they gave 100% tonight," he said.

"We beat a great team in Portugal, I am very proud of our outstanding performance today.

"We came out really strong, we played 30 or 40 minutes of outstanding soccer in the first half."

Arena revealed that his squad had been preparing for this match since December.

And, after losing all three matches in the 1998 finals, they had been convinced they would win at least one game here.

"We have a lot of experience and we trained very well for this game," he said. "We played to win."

Arena also praised his defence for their performance, cancelling out the threat posed by world player of the year Luis Figo and the hard-running Sergio Conceicao.

"It was the defence which won the game and we kept Portugal on their heels," he said.

"This victory will grab the attention of a lot of people in the US.

"But our World Cup is not over and our goal is to make the second round."


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