USA Wins Thriller, Faces Ghana in World Cup Knockout Round

Landon Donovan scores dramatic goal at the death to ensure World Cup survival

By tamer el-ghobashy
|  Wednesday, Jun 23, 2010  |  Updated 4:27 PM EDT
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United States' Landon Donovan celebrates following the World Cup group C soccer match between the United States and Algeria at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.

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Team USA squeezed into the knockout round of the World Cup in dramatic fashion with an injury time goal by Landon Donovan that ended the game 1-0 against Algeria.

The Americans were in a must win situation when Donovan picked up the scraps of a goal mouth scramble in the 91st minute and drilled a shot in the back of the net. The star midfielder was mobbed by teammates after the goal and was later in tears.

It was Donovan's 44th international goal -- a US record -- and without a doubt the most important one.

“I have been on a long journey the last four years. I’m just shocked and so proud of our guys, unbelievable,” Donovan said after the match, Yahoo! reported. “We’re alive, baby.”

U.S. coach Bob Bradley applauded his players.

“These guys put a lot into it,” he said. “They never quit. We were pushing hard for a goal. It made for a wide open game, but we needed a win.”

With the victory, the USA finishes at the top Group C -- the best  finish for an American team since 1930 and a far-fetched notion coming into the tournament.

England beat Slovenia 1-0, also advancing to the Round of 16. Their early goal added massive pressure on the USA who would have crashed out of the tournament with a draw against Algeria.

The USA' s next opponent will be Ghana, who finished second in Group D. That game will be played Saturday and can not end in a tie. The winner will face either Uruguay or South Korea in the quarterfinals.

Once again, the game against Algeria was marked by poor officiating when an apparent US goal was taken away on an offside call. Clint Dempsey appeared to be level with his defender when he put the ball in the net off a shot parried by the Algerian keeper.

But the referee called Dempsey offside. Maurice Edu's late goal was disallowed against Slovenia last week, a score that would have given the Americans a victory.

The US responded with a fierce attack but missed a handful of easy goal opportunities.

With Donovan's goal, the USA went from being on the brink of elimination to group winners. Former US President Bill Clinton was in attendance, sitting next to FIFA President Sepp Blatter at the stadium.

The win even drew cheers from the current occupants of the White House. "USA USA USA" the White House tweeted moments after the final whistle blew.

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