| Diego (left) of Brazil celebrates with teammate Robinho after their win against the US in Miami on Wednesday. (AFP)
Miami: Brazil came from behind to defeat the United States 2-1 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final on Wednesday, with Diego scoring a golden goal penalty to take the South Americans into the final.
The spot-kick was awarded ten minutes into extra time when Diego’s goal-bound shot was intentionally handled by defender Cory Gibbs who was red carded for the offence.
“The ball was going in the goal,” Gibbs said.
“The only chance I had to do something to prevent the loss was that. That’s the way it goes and the referee saw it.”
The winning goal capped a stirring fightback for the Brazilians who dominated most of the match, but fell behind in the 62nd minute when Carlos Bocanegra headed in a Claudio Reyna free kick to give the US a surprise 1-0 lead.
A pro-Brazilian crowd of 35,211 welcomed the goal in a match that appeared to be headed towards a goalless stalemate.
Brazil, fielding their under-23 side, intensified their efforts to break down the US defence and nearly pulled level in the 74th minute when Julio Baptista was foiled by an acrobatic Kasey Keller save.
However, the Brazilians were finally rewarded a minute from time when Kaka latched onto a rebound to beat Keller from eight metres.
“It was a very exciting game,” Brazil coach Ricardo Gomes said. “We dominated much of it, but had a lot of difficulty getting through.
The US never gave up on offence, they put a lot of long balls into the area and they ended up getting a goal that way.
“Overall, I think the amount of plays we made and the opportunities we had, we couldn’t leave here without a win.
“When we suffered that goal, our quality as a team was that we remained composed and came back to win the game.”
Mexico and Costa Rica play in the other semi-final at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, the site of Sunday’s final.
“We ran out of gas out there,” Keller said. “It was really tough giving up the goal right at the end of the game because we had defended so well.
“As extra time came, we were drained and I knew that we were going to have to hang on for dear life.”
The match was the second meeting between the two teams in the past six weeks following a 1-0 victory for Brazil’s senior side in the opening round of the Confederations Cup last month in France.
Historically, the US has lost 11 of 12 fixtures against Brazil with the only victory coming in the semi-finals of this tournament in 1998.