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Jun 20, 2011

USA progress to Gold Cup semis

The USA claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Jamaica in their CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final amid muggy conditions in Washington D.C. on Sunday.

Second-half goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey enabled the USA to secure their passage to Wednesday's semi-final, where they will take on Panama, and put behind them much of the criticism received early in the tournament.

Star forward Landon Donovan started the game on the bench, but the USA looked dangerous in attack from the outset with Dempsey and Alejandro Bedova in particular causing problems for the Jamaican rearguard. But for some splendid goalkeeping by Donovan Ricketts, the home side surely would have made their dominance, in terms of possession, count on the scoreboard in the opening stanza.

The Americans didn't create as many chances in the second half, but they got the business done by scoring twice. The first came when Jones' shot from outside the box took a wicked deflection off a defender before landing in the back of the net in the 49th minute.

After that, although Jamaica pulled back its midfield, the USA got a little more comfortable on the ball as it was being pressed less, with the Reggae Boyz now overtly playing on the counter. This made for a much more low-key finish to the game. At least until Jones' thespian flop in the 68th minute. After he lost any hope of chasing down a through ball and decided the best remaining option was to go to ground, and Jermaine Taylor was subsequently sent off.

The USA then put the game to bed in the 79th minute when Donovan, who had bailed out of a promising run on goal moments earlier, played a nice ball wide to Juan Agudelo. He, in turn, played the ball square to the wide-open Dempsey, who made up for his lackluster finishing against Guadeloupe with a cool-as-you-like goal.

In Sunday's other quarter-final, Panama advanced at the expense of El Salvador.

Luis Tejada scored in the 90th minute to send the game into a dramatic extra-time period after Rodolfo Zelaya gave El Salvador the lead from the penalty spot on 77 minutes.

Blas Perez looped over a cross from the right and Tejada was on hand to strike the ball through traffic to level at 1-1. However, neither team could make the breakthrough in extra-time, and Panama held their nerve the better of the two sides in the ensuing penalty shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo stopped the first penalty from El Salvador's Dennis Alas, giving Panama the upper hand in the shoot-out. Tejada then stepped up to slot home the winning spot-kick to hand Panama a spot in Wednesday's semi-final.

Panama upset the USA 2-1 in their Group C clash in the tournament, and no doubt Bob Bradley's men will be seeking revenge when the two sides play for the right to play in Saturday's final at the Rose Bowl.

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