Clint Dempsey USA
USA skipper Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring against Ghana, 16 JuneReuters

Clint Dempsey scored the quickest goal by an American at a World Cup, and John Brooks netted a late equaliser to give USA a thrilling 2-1 victory over Ghana at the FIFA World Cup.

Coming off the back of two defeats suffered at the hands of Ghana, defeats which had pretty much ended their chances at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the US jumped off the blocks quicker than a cheetah after its prey courtesy their veteran star Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey cut in from the left, weaved his way past a couple of Ghana defenders, before slotting home with his left foot as the clock showed just 29 seconds.

That goal looked to be enough to give the US a much-needed victory, only for Ghana, who put the US under pressure for long periods, to reply via Andre Ayew with eight minutes remaining -- the Marseille man jumping onto a wonderful backheel from Asamoah Gyan, who seems to live for the World Cup, to thump home past Tim Howard.

However, the USA, 2-1 losers to Ghana in both of those previous World Cup encounters, would not let this game slip away, as substitute Brooks climbed up to head home the winner four minutes from time to send the delirium bandwagon into overdrive in Natal.

It is a crucial win for the USA, who needed the three points to stand a realistic chance of making it to the last 16 from this tougher-than-nails Group G. Germany's thumping win over Portugal will give Jurgen Klinsmann's men further encouragement that they can indeed fashion a way out of this group, even if it might have to be as second-place finishers, considering the form of Klinsmann's home country.

"The result shows our character," Dempsey said after the match. "We got the goal early in the game and that caused us to be a little bit more defensive. I thought Ghana played really well, but I thought that we didn't help ourselves at times in terms of keeping possession.

"When they got the equaliser, I thought that we might get a point out of the game, but credit to our team, we kept fighting and we got the goal. We didn't play our best, but we ground out the result."

In the second match on Monday, Iran and Nigeria played out a goalless draw in Curitiba, with neither side really doing enough to warrant three points in their Group F match. The 0-0 result was the first draw of this the-goals-just-keep-coming World Cup, and Nigeria, no doubt, will come out of the match a lot more disappointed than Iran.

Fancied by many to stand the best chance of making it far amongst the African teams, considering the relatively easy nature of the group – Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina are the other two teams – and their strong lineup, Nigeria, who next play the dangerous Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed by favourites Argentina, will need a couple of outstanding performances to get over the line after this dour result.

"We are very disappointed because the opening match is very important," Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel said. "We looked for the win, but Iran knew what we wanted to do and put 11 men behind the ball. They managed to stop us from playing our game. We'll have to create more chances in our next match and be sharp in front of goal."