USA leave it late in Pretoria
The United States have reached the World Cup knock-out stages after a last-gasp win over Algeria.
Last Updated: 23/06/10 7:29pm
The United States have reached the World Cup knock-out stages after a last-gasp win over 10-man Algeria.
Dominating for large periods, the USA created a host of chances but looked set to be denied by a mixture of the woodwork, good goalkeeping and poor finishing.
That was until Landon Donovan proved USA's hero as he smashed home from close range in stoppage-time in an entertaining contest at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Bob Bradley's side top Group C ahead of England, who beat Slovenia in the other game, meaning the United States will now play the second-placed team from Group D, which includes Ghana, Germany, Serbia and Australia.
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane, knowing his side could not afford a third successive match without a goal, made one change to the team that held England 0-0, bringing in AEK Athens striker Rafik Djebbour for Ryad Boudebouz while USA boss Bradley made three changes to his starting XI.
Both teams approached their final group clash going for the win and Algeria went agonisingly close to breaking their duck when Djebbour struck the bar in the sixth minute after defender Jay DeMerit failed to clear a long ball.
It was a big let-off for the Americans, but Bradley's side would return the favour with interest during the remainder of the period as they spurned a number of good chances themselves.
USA forward Clint Dempsey was at the heart of the best of the American attacks - the Fulham man had a goal disallowed for offside in the 20th minute after being fed by Herculez Gomez, who had just had a shot parried by Algeria goalkeeper Rais M'Bohli.
The Americans were denied a winning goal in their last match against Slovenia when Maurice Edu's late strike was controversially chalked off and the American camp on the sidelines were irate once again after the latest refereeing decision.
Jozy Altidore was guilty of missing a sitter in the best of the first half's other chances after the influential Donovan had dinked the ball past M'Bohli to set up a magnificent opening in the 37th minute.
The Desert Foxes were still posing problems of their own though, and Karim Matmour earned a corner after testing Tim Howard with a long-range thunderbolt as the half ended in stalemate.
With England leading Slovenia in the other game, both the US and Algeria were on their way out of the World Cup at the interval.
On resumption, Dempsey was again the USA's likeliest to score when his 57th minute but the Fulham forward squandered two chances in quick succession.
First, the ball fell invitingly for the USA man on the edge of the box, but his shot rebounded back off the inside of the far post before he sliced the rebound wide with the goal gaping.
If anyone was going to snatch three points it looked like it was going to be the USA as continued to push hard for a winner but Bradley's side found Algerian goalkeeper M'Bohli in inspired form as he made top-drawer saves from substitute Edson Buddle and Michael Bradley.
Algeria briefly stemmed the one-way traffic when Karim Ziani dragged a shot wide from a good chance in the 69th minute, but otherwise it was largely all America.
Algeria had a late chance to snatch what could have been a winner when Rafik Saifi headed straight at Howard, and moments after that the US claimed the victory.
As the game in Port Elizabeth between England and Slovenia ended, Donovan gave the USA lift off as he blasted through a packed penalty area in the first of four minutes of added time after Dempsey's low effort was parried by the otherwise brilliant M'Bohli.There was still room on the clock for Algeria captain Antar Yahia to pick up a second bookable offence as the Africans pushed for an equaliser but unfortunately for Slovenia and themselves, their tournament is over.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||3|
|11||Shots off Target||13|