Clint Dempsey scored the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history, and John Brooks scored a remarkable late goal to lead the Americans past Ghana 2-1 in USA's World Cup Group G match opener in Natal on Monday.

It was an incredible result, made of equal parts attrition and magic, and it took the USA to second-place in the group of death, tied with Germany on points, and behind only on goal difference.

Brook’s header in the 86th minute was astonishing, and not because it was his first for the national team, nor because it was the first scored by an American on his debut in the World Cup for 12 long years. It was, in fact, a straightforward header off a fine corner kick sent in by Graham Zusi that caught Ghana flat.

No, what was remarkable about it is that Ghana had pinned the Americans on the ropes for a solid hour after a series of injuries depleted the USA, and Andre Ayew had looked as if he was about to lead the Black Stars all the way back, having scored just minutes earlier.

Instead, out of nothing but heart, the Americans went all the way down the field, willing themselves forward in the steam of Natal, won a corner – and finally exorcised the memory of two bitter defeats suffered at the Africans’ hands.