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U.S. victory over Spain joins list of great upsets
BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - The United States' 2-0 victory over European champions Spain in the Confederations Cup semi-finals on Wednesday earned a place on the list of great international upsets.
"We all know about the U.S. beating England back in the World Cup in 1950 but this result, in the semi-finals of a major FIFA competition watched by millions around the world, has to rank right up there among the greatest upsets of all time," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard told reporters.
"On Sunday we thought we were going home, now we are heading into the final. No-one gave us a chance on Sunday, no-one thought we could turn it around, but you have to believe."
FIFA's own website (www.fifa.com) posed the question: "Is this the greatest upset ever in a FIFA competition?"
It left the answer open, but the result ranks alongside North Korea's 1-0 win over Italy in the 1966 World Cup finals, Cameroon's 1-0 win over then world champions Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup and Senegal's 1-0 victory over then world champions France in the 2002 World Cup finals.
Denmark's astonishing success in the 1992 European championship, when they won the tournament in Sweden a few weeks after reassembling from their holidays and being given a place in the finals when Yugoslavia were disqualified, also takes its place as does Greece's win in Euro 2004 when they started the tournament as rank outsiders.
Two successive World Cup finals also produced huge shocks. In 1950 Brazil were odds-on favourites to beat Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro to become world champions for the first time but lost 2-1.
Four years later Hungary's "mighty Magyars", who had not lost for more than four years, met West Germany in the final, a few weeks after beating them 8-3 in the group stage. Hungary, one of the greatest sides ever assembled in world football, led 2-0 early in the game but ended up being beaten 3-2.
It is not the first time Spain have been the victims of an upset: they surprisingly lost 3-2 to Nigeria in the 1998 World Cup finals in Nantes after Nigeria scored two late goals.
This upset surpasses that though as Spain are currently number one in FIFA's world rankings, had been unbeaten for nearly three years and 35 matches and had won their previous 15 games.
"It might not be the last upset here either," said Howard. "If we can beat the world-ranked number one side, what can we do against Brazil or South Africa ?"
Brazil play the hosts on Thursday to decide who will meet the U.S. in Sunday's final.
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