SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Jozy Altidore struck a stunning second-half hat-trick as the United States roared back from a two-goal deficit to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-3 in a friendly on Wednesday.
The victory in Sarajevo extended Juergen Klinsmann’s team’s winning streak to 12 games and was also Altidore’s fifth successive international game with a goal.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, who lead Group G in European qualifying for next year’s World Cup, grabbed the lead in the eighth minute when Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko beat Tim Howard with a close-range shot at the second attempt.
The home side doubled their lead on the half hour through a fine glancing header from Vedad Ibisevic but it was a very different story after the break.
Bosnia coach Safet Susic made four changes and the United States took advantage of the disruption to quickly get back in the game.
Eddie Johnson slotted home in the 54th minute after Michael Bradley had found Altidore with a long ball.
Four minutes later, Johnson returned the compliment, finding Altidore who tapped home to bring the Americans level.
Zvjezdan Misimovic twice went close to putting the Bosnians back in front with long-range efforts before Altidore turned it on again.
The Sunderland striker superbly curled in a free kick in the 84th minute and two minutes later completed his hat-trick with a first-time finish after more good service from Bradley.
A fine glancing header from Dzeko in the final minute of normal time provided the prospect of a late twist but another impressive win for Klinsmann’s team was the perfect tonic ahead of the September 6 World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica.
“This team is coming together at the right time,” Altidore told ESPN.
“We still we have some things to work on but it’s coming together, the important thing is the World Cup though,” he added.
Klinsmann gave a first start to Germany-born defender John Brooks of Hertha Berlin and to AZ Alkmaar’s Alabama born striker Aron Johannsson, who had switched his allegiance from Iceland who he represented at Under-21 level.
“I think we saw a very entertaining game, we saw seven goals. Obviously, it was sort of difficult to nail things down against Ibisevic and Dzeko, the give you some real problems,” said Klinsmann.
“It was an open game but I think if you look at the entire game I think that we deserved to win today.”
The Bosnians are back in qualifying action on September 10 when they host Slovakia and Misimovic said that was when it really counted.
“We played well in the first half but lost our momentum in the second and conceding four goals in one half is just unacceptable,” he told Bosnian state television BHT.
“But we would rather lose now than in the crucial qualifiers. We hope to give the fans something to cheer when it matters,” he added.
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami with additional reporting from Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Ed Osmond