England's Robert Green fails to save a goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between England and the United States at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Saturday, June 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) By Michael Sohn
England Robert Green reacts after getting a goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between England and the United States at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Saturday, June 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) By Michael Sohn
RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) -- Clint Dempsey scored on a blunder by goalkeeper Robert Green in the 40th minute, and the United States came from behind to tie England 1-1 in the Americans' World Cup opener Saturday.
Steven Gerrard put England ahead in the fourth minute, blowing past Ricardo Clark to beat goalkeeper Tim Howard from short range.
But Dempsey tied the score when his 25-yard shot skipped off the grass twice and bounced in off Green's hand, yet another in a long line of shocking gaffes by England goalkeepers. It made Dempsey only the second American to score in two World Cups, joining Brian McBride.
The result was a thrill for the U.S. and a disappointment for England, which is looking for its first World Cup title since 1966.
Jozy Altidore nearly put the Americans ahead in the 65th minute with a shot that went off Green's hand and the upper corner of the goal. Howard then withstood a late barrage by the English, and was named man of the match for saving the U.S. from its defensive lapses.
While not a shocking win to match the 1-0 American upset over England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, the U.S. earned a huge point its quest to reach the second round for the first time since 2002.
Next come two opponents who appear to be easier challenges: Slovenia on June 18 and Algeria on June 23. Those two teams meet Sunday in the other initial game in Group C.
After a tentative and nervous opening few minutes, England broke on top.
Gerrard scored his 17th goal in 82 appearances, bursting past Clark. Emile Heskey has taken Glen Johnson's throw-in and sent a through ball to Gerrard, who flicked it past Howard.
Dempsey scored on a play very similar to the goal by Croatia's Niko Kranjcar that went in off Scott Carson's arm and helped eliminate England from qualifying from the 2008 European Championship.
Dempsey took several touches, spun around Gerrard and hit a dipping left-footed shot. The ball hit the field twice, glanced off Green's right hand and went into the net for Dempsey's 19th goal in 63 national team games. Dempsey also scored against Ghana as the U.S. was eliminated in 2006.
Howard went down and needed treatment in the 31st minute after Emile Heskey slid into his ribs toe first. Howard grimaced several times when he got up and play resumed.
It was a relatively quiet crowd until the final minutes at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, set in the platinum-rich high veld of northern South Africa. But there were chants of "USA!" after the match.
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