Veteran striker Landon Donovan sent the United States into the Round of 16 of the World Cup in South Africa on Wednesday with a stoppage time goal, giving the United States a 1-0 victory over Algeria.
The regular 90-minutes had expired and anxious USA fans were beginning to panic as four minutes of injury time ticked away. A tie would knock the Americans out of the competition. And then almost unexpectedly, pandemonium erupted.
Landon Donovan's rebound shot after Clint Dempsey's try was blocked sent the red, white and blue fans into ecstasy. It was Donovan's 4th goal in World Cup competition, equaling the U.S. record.
Afterward, a tearful Donovan called it the greatest moment of his career.
The thousands of U.S. fans, many wearing American flags with red, white and blue painted faces were joyous as they headed home.
Pahlavi Mahidera of Washington, D.C. said she had faith until the end.
"Donovan always pulls through. Go USA! Whoo!" She said.
Mike Santiago saved for years to get enough money to fly to South Africa from Orange County, California. He says he has no regrets.
"It's a little expensive but it's worth it to see games like this in person. It's a once in a lifetime experience and it's a dream come true for someone like me," said Santiago.
Algeria's thousands of supporters were gracious in defeat. Shurket ad-Misaid of Algiers said it was still a great day for his country and for soccer.
"I felt bad because I was expecting them to play well," said ad-Misaid. "But we are happy with the achievement so far because we haven't been in the World Cup for 24 years, since 1986, and it was the first time for us. It lifts a little the morale of the Algerian people. It was a nice game despite the defeat. We are happy with the result," ad-Misaid added.
Africans in the stadium seemed equally divided in their loyalties. Many said they were rooting for Algeria to uphold African honor. Other locals, wearing the red, white and blue, said they backed the Americans because they admired their style of play.
The win puts the United States at the top of group C and into a Round of 16 match on Saturday against the runner up in Group D.
England captured the runner up spot in Group C and will next play the winner of Group D.