The US media spared no adjectives as it reacted with glee to the Stars and Stripes' stunning semi-final victory over the European champions. But while they heaped praise on Bob Bradley's heroes, their Spanish counterparts were holding a hurried inquest into La Roja's unexpected demise.

Putting the result into context, Spain's press pack described the unlikely reverse as a timely warning. Amid the elation, there was also a guarded response from some US football observers, who praised the national side's achievement in reaching the final while pointing out that they still had some way to go before they could be considered among the top teams in the world.

'The greatest victory ever'
Regarded as one of the leading newspapers on the planet, The New York Times ran with the story in its digital edition almost as soon as the final whistle had blown. Under the headline "US Victory Was a Miracle on Grass", the prestigious daily compared the win to the Miracle on Ice, the famous victory recorded by its amateur ice-hockey players over the mighty Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Reporter George Vecsey ranked the 2-0 triumph as "Probably the greatest victory by the men's national soccer team", before going on to compare the result to some of the greatest performances in US soccer history: "But for these 90 minutes on Wednesday, the Americans were better than the Spaniards - brave and smart and lucky, too. And they will always have this result, like the Americans who shocked England in the 1950 World Cup, a simpler time, and the Americans who demoralized Mexico and then nearly beat Germany in the giddy quarter-final in the World Cup in 2002."

Putting the shock scoreline into perspective, Vecsey wrote, "Nobody in the American soccer federation will dare to claim that this was the day the country came of age in the world's most important sport... But this was a step."

In his blog on the influential website BigSoccer, Ollie Irish pointed to the importance of the win. "Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, the US looks like a proper team with real players who believe in themselves," he wrote.

Splashed on the website of US TV channel ESPN, meanwhile, was the banner headline "Mission: Possible", with the article below encapsulating the euphoric reaction to events in South Africa: "They said it couldn't be done. What do they know? The US stunned world No. 1 Spain on Wednesday in the Confed Cup semifinals".

Spanish sorrow
Unprepared for such an outcome, the Spanish media tried to paint the setback in a positive light. Sports daily Marca emblazoned its front page with the headline "Cura de humildad" (Dose of humility) and saw the defeat as a blessing in disguise: "We are the best team in the world but it's better to lose now than in a year's time at the World Cup."

Rival publication AS adopted a similar tone, headlining with "How strange it is to lose!", and reaching the following verdict on Spain's no-show: "A disciplined US side were too much for an unrecognisable selección. A Ramos mistake helped kill Spain off. There was no passing and too much haste."

Barcelona-based Sport's lead story was "US deny Spain a place in the final". "Despite dominating the game, things did not work out for Del Bosque's side," continued the paper's reporter. "They lacked freshness and despite enjoying more possession of the ball they committed a series of stupid fouls in (Tim) Howard's penalty area. The final pass was never the right one and it's always hard to score goals when that's the case."