photo by Ben Queenborough/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The U.S. national team was held scoreless by Algeria for 90 minutes and looked headed for an early World Cup exit, but a Landon Donovan goal in the 91st was enough to push the Americans to a 1-0 win that saw them reach the knockout rounds for the first time since 2002.
Donovan finished a Clint Dempsey rebound in the first minute of stoppage time, giving the United States a dramatic victory against Algeria at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria. The win marked the Americans' first of the World Cup and gave them first place in Group C.
The United States came close to scoring on several occasions prior to Donovan's finish, but good goalkeeping by Rais M'Bolhi, an unkind post and a questionable disallowed goal kept the game scoreless.
Dempsey looked to originally give the United States the lead in the 21st minute when he got on the end of a Gomez shot, but Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere ruled Dempsey offside.
The United States came close again later in the half, but Jozy Altidore fired a volley high in front of an open net in the 37th.
The second half saw more of the same, as Dempsey took a shot at the top of the penalty area only to see it smack off the post in the 57th. The rebound then fell to Dempsey but his left-footed shot soared wide from a difficult angle.
Substitute Edson Buddle also came close to giving the United States a lead 11 minutes later, getting on the end of a Steve Cherundolo cross only to head it right to M'Bolhi.
All the missed chances were erased in the 91st minute though, when the United States deployed the type of counterattack it is known for.
After saving a shot in his own end, Tim Howard quickly heaved the ball to Donovan on the right flank. The American midfielder dribbled down the field before passing to Jozy Altidore, who layed the ball across the 18 to Dempsey. M'Bolhi saved Dempsey's shot, but Donovan pounced on the loose ball and put it in the back of the net, sending the U.S. team, sidelines and fans into a frenzy.
The United States will be joined by England as teams to advance out of Group C, with the Three Lions beating Slovenia 1-0 on Wednesday.
England secured its passage to the Round of 16 courtesy of a first-half goal from Jermaine Defoe.
What do you think of the United States' 1-0 win? What did you do when Donovan scored? Which players impressed you? Glad to see the defense keep a cleansheet?
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