WASHINGTON - Germany, the United States and Algeria secured the final three spots in the World Cup's coveted round of 16 Thursday, a day also highlighted by the stiff punishment handed down against Uruguay's Luis Suarez for biting an opponent.
Germany advanced with a 1-0 win over the U.S. in the Brazilian city of Recife, finishing first in Group G play with seven points. The United States and Portugal both tallied four points in that group, but the U.S. won the tiebreaker with a goal difference of three more than Portugal.
The Portuguese posted a 2-1 victory in Brasilia over Ghana, which also was eliminated.
Germany and the U.S. played in a steady downpour, with Germany's Thomas Mueller scoring the game's only goal in the 55th minute.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a one-time superstar player who won the World Cup with Germany in 1990 before coaching the Germans to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, said his squad has room for improvement despite its gritty performance Thursday against a European power.
"Obviously, we would have liked to create more chances and find more ways to take it to Germany," he said. "Germany [is] among the four or five favorites for the title. We're still growing, we're learning."
Obama Congratulates US Team
Across the United States, football fans gathered in bars, restaurants and in front of open-air screens to cheer on the U.S. national team, which will be making its fourth appearance in the round of 16, also known as the knockout round, but has never made it past the quarterfinals.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he is proud of the U.S. squad.
"I have to begin by congratulating our U.S. soccer team, Team USA, for advancing to the next round of the World Cup," Mr. Obama said. "We were in what's called the `Group of Death,' and even though we didn't win today, we were in the toughest group, and we got through. So, we still have a chance to win the World Cup, and we could not be prouder of them. They are defying the odds and earned a lot of believers in the process."
Germany will open against Algeria Monday in the knockout round. The Algerians tied Russia 1-1 on Thursday in Curitiba, and finished second in Group H with four points.
On Tuesday, the United States will play Belgium, which defeated South Korea 1-0 in Sao Paulo in Thursday's other Group H game. The Belgians finished first in that group with nine points.
The round of 16 begins on Saturday with games featuring four South American teams. Five-time World Cup champion Brazil plays Chile in Belo Horizonte, and Colombia faces Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.
Uruguay will be without its star striker, Luis Suarez, when it faces Colombia.
Before competition began Thursday, football's governing body, FIFA, banned Suarez for nine international matches and four months for biting an Italian player during Tuesday's World Cup match. He also was fined $112,000 for the incident.
"Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," FIFA said.
Television replays show Suarez biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder. Officials have suspended Suarez twice before in club play for biting opposing players and once for using racially abusive language. On Wednesday, he dismissed the severity of the latest incident, saying "those are situations that happen on the pitch."
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