USA reaches into Confederation Cup final

CAPE TOWN: It was arguably the greatest victory for the United States since the 1950 World Cup, when they recorded a famous 1-0 victory over an England side that included Billy Wright, Wilf Mannion, Tom Finney and Stan Mortensen.

Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey gave the US a 2-0 victory over Spain in the first semi-final of the Confederations Cup.

The European champions, who had won 15 straight matches and had not been defeated since November 2006 - both world records - were at close to full strength, with Fernando Torres partnering David Villa up front and Xavi Hernández, of Barcelona, the only interloper in what was otherwise an all-Premier League midfield four.

The US, having reached the semi-finals thanks to a dramatic six-goal swing in the last round of the group stage, opted for two banks of four with a combination of pace (Charlie Davies) and power (Altidore) up front.

The idea was to defend deep - to negate Torres''s pace - and narrow - clogging the middle to hinder Spain''s intricate passing. This meant conceding the flanks, but, against a side who lack a genuine aerial threat in the front six, it was a risk worth taking.

The early going rewarded the Americans'' game plan. Spain''s insistence on forcing their way through the middle left them frustrated and, in the 26th minute, Davies and Dempsey linked up well on the left before the Fulham midfield player picked out Altidore, who turned Joan Capdevila brilliantly on the edge of the box and smacked the ball past Iker Casillas.

With Vicente del Bosque''s men pushing forward, a Spanish equaliser appeared inevitable, but in the 74th minute Sergio Ramos failed to clear a cross by Landon Donovan and Dempsey was on hand to tuck it into the net.

Spain predictably laid siege to Tim Howard''s goal in the dying minutes, but the US weathered the storm, even after Michael Bradley was sent off with five minutes to go.