Late Donovan goal sends USA to WC knockout stage

A late Landon Donovan goal has given USA a win over Algeria as well as top spot on the Group C table.
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A late Landon Donovan goal has given USA a win over Algeria as well as top spot on the Group C table.

Group C
USA: 1 (Landon Donovan 90+1’)
Algeria: 0
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium - Pretoria
Crowd: 35,827
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (BEL)
Yellow cards: USA - Jozy Altidore 62’, DaMarcus Beasley 90’
ALG - Hassan Yebda 12’, Antar Yahia 76’, 90+3’, Mehdi Lacen 83’
Red cards: ALG - Antar Yahia 90+3’

In a very open contest, both sides had solid chances in the opening 25 minutes with the best for Algeria coming in the 6th minute when Rafik Djebbour’s close range shot crashed into the crossbar.

The USA’s best came in the 21st minute when they did manage to put the ball in the back of the net via Clint Dempsey but the Fulham star was adjudged to be off-side. Somehow, a loose ball in the area found Herculez Gomez who was all by himself and his initial shot was well blocked by Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi but the follow up found a free Dempsey on the goal line who duly tapped in but the linesman disallowed the goal.

Algeria were finding themselves in a few lucky situations as the USA squandered some fabulous chances including Jozy Altidore’s pointblank miss eight minutes before the half-time whistle but it didn’t stop them from creating their own opportunities in the goalmouth.

Neither side were able to break the deadlock in the first 45 minutes and were forced into the sheds with a scoreline of 0-0.

Play resumed in much the same manner as it went in the first half and it looked as though the USA were simply not going to score when Dempsey’s shot in the 57th minute, following a neat piece of play from Altidore, hit the crossbar before he managed to skew the rebound way off target under no pressure.

The 68th minute saw Algerian stopper M’Bolhi make another brilliant save when Steve Cherundolo got well forward and sent a left-footed cross into the area which was met by substitute Edson Buddle but his header was knocked away by a reflex reaction by the gloveman.

Algeria were also enjoying some quality forward movement but their chances were not as clearcut as the Americans who would have been ruing the fact they had not yet hit the back of the net.

In a frantic finish, the USA got that elusive goal when at one end, Tim Howard made a vital save, before a counter attack saw another great save from M’Bolhi from a Dempsey close range shot but fortunately Landon Donovan was on hand to neatly finish and put his side through to the Round of 16.

Starting Line-Ups

USA
Tim Howard (gk), Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez (Feilhaber 46’), Landon Donovan, Jonathan Bornstein (Beasley 80’), Jay DeMerit, Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu (Buddle 64’)

Subs - Benny Feilhaber (46’), Edson Buddle (64’), DaMarcus Beasley (80’)

ALG
Rais M’Bolhi (gk), Madjij Bougherra, Nadir Belhadj, Antar Yahia, Rafik Halliche, Mehdi Lacen, Rafik Djebbour (Ghezzal 65’), Karim Matmour (Saifi 85’), Karim Ziani (Guedioura 69’), Hassan Yebda, Foued Kadir

Subs - Abdelkader Ghezzal (65’), Adlane Guedioura (69’), Rafik Saifi (85’)

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