USA 1-0 Algeria – Last minute heroics see the United States top Group C

The USA joined England in qualifying for the Round of 16 from Group C following a 1-0 win over Algeria in the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria following a late, late winner from Landon Donovan.

Both teams made changes to their starting line-up with Herculez Gomez, Maurice Edu and Jonathan Bornstein starting for The United States and striker Rafik Djebbour coming into the Algeria line-up.

The teams were scoreless for most of the game and went in 0-0 at the break after a first half that saw chances for both sides. The first goal-scoring opportunity landed at the feet of Djebbour whose effort from 12 yards cannoned off the crossbar following some direct play from the Algerians, denying them their first goal of the World Cup finals. This was quickly followed by a Herculez Gomez shot from distance that was saved by Rais M’Bolhi.

The major talking point of the first half however was when Clint Dempsey had the ball in the Algerian net but for his effort to be disallowed. Some shambolic defending saw the Fulham forward pop up to tap in from three yards out but to be ruled marginally offside by Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere. Head Coach Bob Bradley was furious with the decision, although several television replays showed that the decision was inconclusive. More chances came and went when with ten minutes of the half left, after good work from Michael Bradley and Donovan, Jozy Altidore blast the ball over the crossbar from six yards following some more United States pressure and questionable Algerian defending.

The second half was all about pressure from the Americans, with the only relevant attempt from the Algerians from Karim Ziani. Dempsey, looking to be the most likely to score, again went close, this time striking a post before blasting the rebound wide. The United States then went for broke as Head Coach Bob Bradley changed to three-at-the-back and forwards Edson Buddle and DaMarcus Beasley entered the game. With Algerian goalkeeper M’Bolhi in fine form the Americans must have been wondering if they would make the breakthrough.

The winning goal came in the 92nd minute after Altidore’s work and cross from the right channel was parried by the Algerian goalkeeper only for the United States all-time leading goal-scorer Donovan to pounce and net from close range. There was more talking points as Algerian skipper Antar Yahia was dismissed in the closing seconds with his side heading out of the World Cup having picked up a second yellow card for dissent.

It is however the late goal from United States captain and talisman Donovan in front of ex-president Bill Clinton that sends his side into the last 16 and topping Group C having scored more goals that England. Donovan summed it up in his post-match interview commenting that: “Time kinda stopped and you can’t miss from there”.

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