TIANJIN, China (AFP) — A goal three minutes into stoppage time spared the Netherlands blushes and kept their Olympic men's football hopes alive as they snatched a 2-2 draw with the United States here Sunday.
The United States had earlier taken control of the game with a two goal burst midway through the second half but in the end they let themselves down.
The Netherlands were staring at defeat and the prospect of having to beat Japan by a wide margin in their final pool game when Gerald Sibon cracked home a late free kick to put them in the box seat of Group B for the play-offs.
The United States and Nigeria head the pool on four points each but they are to play each other in the final round-robin match, while the Netherlands are a point behind and left with winless Japan to play.
Liverpool striker Ryan Babel put the Netherlands 1-0 up in the 15th minute when he slammed home a rebound from close range after United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan had blocked his initial shot.
The Netherlands clung to the lead for 50 minutes, but not without effort, as the United States fought their way back into the game.
A free kick by Michael Bradley was successfully deflected and Netherlands guardian Kenneth Vermeer easily covered a shot from Stuart Holden 15 minutes later.
But the pressure was telling and the Netherlands cracked in the 65th minute when they let Sasha Kljestan work his way through the Netherlands defence to equalise.
Seven minutes later Michael Orozco whipped the ball across the front of the Netherlands goal for substitute Jozy Alatidore to bang into the net and the US were ahead 2-1.
But with only a few seconds remaining they conceded a freekick and Sibon slammed the ball through the wall and past Guzan to achieve a late escape.
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