PRETORIA, South Africa - Landon Donovan scored a stunning goal in the first minute of injury time, 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.
“I’ve been through a lot in the last four years,” Donovan said half an hour after the end, crying and his voice cracked. “I’m so glad it culminated this way. When you try to do things the right way, it’s good to get rewarded.”
While he was speaking underneath the stands in the interview room, American fans were still in the stadium, waving flags and blowing vuvuzelas in celebration.
The win, the first World Cup victory for the U.S. in eight years, 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 on Saturday.
After his U.S. record 44th international goal, Donovan joyously ran to the corner flag, sliding headfirst in a belly flop, 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.
“That was a really special feeling,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “These guys put a lot into it, they never quit.
“We’re proud. We finished first in our group. Five points, didn’t lose a match. So we’re ready.”
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.”