U.S. substitute Sasha Victorine blasted a penalty kick just past the desperate dive of goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki for a 5-4 shootout victory over Japan today and a berth in the Olympic men’s soccer semifinals.
The Americans won the shootout after tying the game 2-2 on Pete Vagenas’ penalty kick in the final minute of regulation.
After two periods of overtime, Victorine nailed his penalty kick just inside the post to the bloodied Narazaki’s left. The entire American squad sprinted onto the field as if it had won the World Cup, tearing off shirts and pumping clenched fists in triumph.
Japan, which led twice, stood back bewildered, jaws dropped.
The United States, which had never advanced out of the first round of an Olympic tournament, moved into a semifinal meeting Tuesday with Spain, which edged Italy 1-0 in Sydney.
U.S. Rallies Keep Team Close
The Americans rallied twice, including Vagenas’ penalty kick after a dubious call by Zimbabwean referee Felix Onias Tangawarima.
Josh Wolff and Tomoyuki Sakia were vying for the ball when the American striker was barely pushed from behind and appeared to take a dive near the end line as the ball went out of bounds. He convinved Tangawarima it was a foul, however.
Exhausted, and with the bulk of the 14,345 crowd at Hindmarsh Stadium cheering on the Japanese, the Americans huddled as Vagenas stepped up for the first U.S. kick in the shootout. The screams of “Nippon, Nippon, Nippon,” overwhelmed the “U-S-A, U-S-A” chants as the Japanese fans and flags outnumbered the Americans at least 4-1.
In the shootout, Vagenas, Jeff Agoos and Landon Donovan all scored for the Americans, while Japan’s Shunsuke Nakamura, Junichi Inamoto and Ryuzo Morioka beat goalie Brad Friedel.
Missed Shot by Nakata Opens Door
Then Hidetoshi Nakata, who plays in Italy for AS Roma, struck the left post with a right-footed kick as Friedel, flat on the ground, punched the air in celebration. The United States had the opening it needed.
Wolff didn’t waste it, roofing his shot. After Japan scored again, Victorine ended it — and began the wild exultations.
Friedel made a stunning, diving save in overtime, getting his fingertips to Nakata’s drive to keep the Americans alive.
Earlier, Atsushi Yanagisawa scored the opener at 30 minutes with an angled header.
Wolff tied it at 68 minutes when he fired a right-footed drive past Narazaki after the Japanese defense deflected a cross from Agoos.
The Americans sprinted to the left corner to celebrate, but Japan struck back almost immediately. Naohiro Takahara took two shots to get around goalkeeper Friedel in the 71st minute.