By FRANCO PANIZO
The final day of Group C saw both of the favorites advance, but not in the order expected.
England and the United States each won their final group game 1-0, but the latter claimed the group on the goals scored tiebreaker. The United States' shutout victory marked the team's first World Cup win since 2002 and the first time in 80 years that the Americans won their World Cup group.
While England finished second in the group, manager Fabio Capello and the Three Lions relieved some of the mounting pressure after enduring a pair of frustrating draws to open its World Cup.
Here are brief recaps from Wednesday's matches as well as the group's best XI:
USA BEATS ALGERIA 1-0, WINS GROUP
The United States left it late against Algeria, but Landon Donovan's goal in the 91st minute was all that it needed to secure first place in Group C and the spot in the Round of 16 that came with it.
Donovan rescued the Americans from an early exit in the World Cup when he pounced on a rebound and put the ball in the back of the net for a 1-0 win. The goal lifted the Americans from what would have been a frustrating end to the game and their tournament, as there were several times the United States could have gone ahead. Among those moments were a Clint Dempsey shot that stung off the post and a missed volley by Jozy Altidore from close range.
While Algeria seemed content with absorbing the pressure from the Americans, it did have its chances to take a lead. The most notable opportunity came in the sixth minute when Rafik Djebbour slipped behind the back line only to see his shot hit the crossbar.
Having won the group, the United States will now play Ghana in a rematch of the 2006 World Cup group stage match on June 26.
ENGLAND REACHES SECOND ROUND WITH 1-0 VICTORY
England secured qualification into the knockout stages of the World Cup, as Jermaine Defoe netted a first-half goal to give England a 1-0 win.
In a match mostly dominated by England, Defoe got on the end of a James Milner cross and kicked it over Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic in the 23rd minute. England had opportunities to build on its lead, but saves from Handanovic and the post saw the English win by just one goal.
Having won and tied its first two matches, Slovenia was still in a position to advance from the group even in defeat. That all changed when Landon Donovan scored a late game-winning goal for the United States in its 1-0 win over Algeria, as it put the Americans in first place and England in second.
England's second-place finish means it will face Germany in the second round on June 27.
GROUP C FINAL TABLE
1. United States……….5 points, +1 goal differential, 4 goals scored
2. England……….5 points, +1 goal differential, 2 goals scored
3. Slovenia……….4 points, 0 goal differential
4. Algeria……….1 point, -2 goal differential
SBI's GROUP C BEST XI
How do you see the United States faring the rest of the way? Think England will lose (on penalty kicks) in the Round of 16? Surprised by how tough Algeria and Slovenia played?
Share your thoughts below.