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June 26, 2014

USA loses 1-0, but advances because it allowed fewer goals than Portugal

RECIFE, Brazil — With Thomas Mueller in a perfect position to pounce on a rebound, American cheers for yet another spectacular Tim Howard save didn't last long.

The U.S. goalkeeper was unable to cut down the angle after diving to punch away a deflected ball, and Mueller did what he does so well — calmly drive a first-time shot inside the far post for his ninth goal in nine career World Cup games.

The 24-year-old Mueller isn't flashy, and didn't generate the pre-tournament talk of Brazil's Neymar or Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. But the Bayern Munich star is tied with Neymar with four goals in Brazil after scoring a tournament-high five in South Africa.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, is going home, as have other high-profile stars such as England's Wayne Rooney and Italy's Mario Balotelli.

Portugal beat Ghana, 2-1, thus finishing tied with the USA in Group G. But USA advances because of the third tiebreaker behind head-to-head (they tied 2-2 on Sunday), goals scored (both had 4) and goals allowed (USA allowed 4, Portugal allowed 7).

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