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US battle into Gold Cup semi-finals with Costa Rica win

Philadelphia, Thursday @PeopleSports11

The United States overcame a battling display from El Salvador to advance to a CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final showdown with Costa Rica here Wednesday night. First-half goals from defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj secured a hard-fought quarter-final win for the hosts, who are chasing their first Gold Cup title since 2013.

However, Bruce Arena’s side were made to work all the way by El Salvador, and only some superb saves from Tim Howard kept the Central American side at bay at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.

“They pressed us well and we weren’t good enough with the ball to break their press,” Howard said afterwards. “We got the two goals before half-time and that was obviously good for us. But we knew they were going to cause us problems.

“It’s good to get the win. We can work on a few things, but that’s what this tournament’s about.”An unconvincing start saw the hosts given a let-off early on when Lichaj under-hit a back pass to Howard.

Rodolfo Zelaya latched onto the loose ball and darted clear only to be denied by a desperate late block from Howard, who had spotted the danger and advanced swiftly to snuff out the chance.

The remainder of the first half was dominated by a series of niggly fouls as El Salvador frustrated American efforts to impose themselves on the contest. -AFP

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