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Johnson leads U.S. escape

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua — Eddie Johnson rewarded his coach's faith in him — twice.

Johnson scored twice Friday night, including the winner in second-half injury time, lifting the United States to a nerve-racking 2-1 victory over tiny Antigua and Barbuda in World Cup semifinal qualifying stage.

If the Americans top Guatemala on Tuesday in Kansas City, Kan., they will make the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. team has 10 points; Guatemala and Jamaica had seven each going into late Friday's meeting.

Johnson scored on headers in the 20th minute, then in the dying moments in his first game for the U.S. team in two years. He was added to the squad by coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "It's good to be back in the mix," said Johnson, who had not scored for the national team in four years.

It was the second time the Americans struggled with Antigua, which has a population of slightly less than 90,000. The United States, at more than 311 million, is nearly 3,500 times bigger. The Americans won 3-1 in June at Raymond James Stadium in a sloppy game, and like Friday's, one played in heavy rain.

ELSEWHERE: Canada beat Cuba 3-0 in Toronto to move a step closer to advancing. Cuba had no subs available. Coach Alexander Gonzalez said four players had left the team. … World and European champion Spain romped to a 24th straight qualifying win, 4-0 at Belarus.

Johnson leads U.S. escape 10/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 13, 2012 1:26am]

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