Landon Donovan scored a stunning goal in the first minute of injury time off a rebound, advancing the United States to the second round at the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Algeria.
With the U.S. perhaps three minutes from elimination Wednesday, Donovan brought the ball upfield on a counterattack and Jozy Altidore's shot on the breakaway was tipped by Clint Dempsey into goalkeeper Rais Bolihi. The rebound went to Donovan, who kicked it in from about 8 yards for one of the biggest goals in U.S. soccer history.
It gave the Americans first place in Group C. With just its fifth shutout in World Cup play, the United States (1-0-2) won a group for the first time since 1930 and will face the runner-up in Group D this weekend.
After his U.S. record 44th international goal, Donovan joyously ran to the corner flag and his teammates ran down the touchline to mob him. Donovan was in tears when the game ended and the United States had moved into the second round.
"Clint made a good run in the middle, the ball fell to me ... time kind of stopped," Donovan said. "You can't miss from there."
As the final whistle sounded, the U.S. bench raced onto the field and piled on top of the players on the far sideline. At midfield, Steve Cherundolo and Jay DeMerit collapsed to the ground. They all bearhugged Donovan, who with his fourth World Cup goal tied Bert Patenaude (1930) as the American leader.
As the team returned to the sideline, goalkeeper Tim Howard bounced up and down in elation. Benny Feilhaber took a water bottle and sprayed his teammates, champagne-like.
"We're not done yet," Donovan said. "We believe, man. We're alive, baby."
England (1-0-2), which beat Slovenia moments earlier, also had five points but finished second because the U.S. scored four goals to two for the English. Slovenia (1-1-1) was third with four points, missing advancing because of Donovan's heroics. Algeria (0-2-1) was last with one point.
Until Donovan's goal, it appeared the officiating would again be the focus.
Dempsey put the ball in the net in the 21st minute off the rebound of Herculez Gomez's shot. But the goal was called offside, just as Maurice Edu's late goal was disallowed against Slovenia last week, a score that would have given the Americans a victory. Replays appeared to show Dempsey was onside.
Dempsey had another great chance in the 57th minute when Michael Bradley stole the ball and sent Altidore streaking down the right side. Altidore crossed, but Dempsey's hit the goalpost. He shot wide on the rebound.
Howard earned the first shutout in World Cup play for the U.S. since the 2-0 victory over Mexico in the second round in 2002. Nearly a half-hour after the match, U.S. fans remained in the stadium, still cheering and celebrating one of the nation's most thrilling victories.
The U.S. kept up its pattern of good and bad World Cups. The Americans were knocked out in the first round in 1990, 1998 and 2006, but went to the second round in 1994 and reached the quarterfinals in 2002.
With former President Bill Clinton watching from the stands at Loftus Versfeld, a pro-American, vuvuzela-blowing crowd filled the old rugby stadium. Donovan and Dempsey all had numerous chances in the first half but either misfired or were stopped by Bolhi.
Finally, though, Donovan connected.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)