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England, United States advance at World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A pair of 1-0 victories were good enough for the United States and England to advance at the World Cup. Other than the final score, there was almost nothing alike in those matches.

England finally played near its best at the tournament and edged Slovenia thanks to an early goal from Jermain Defoe on Wednesday at Port Elizabeth. American star Landon Donovan poked in a second-half injury-time goal to beat Algeria at Pretoria to win Group C.

Defoe scored England's second goal of the tournament in the 23rd minute, sending a right-footed volley from James Milner's cross past goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. After two disappointing draws, the English finally got a win — and some satisfaction.

"This team, this spirit, played together and tried together," England coach Fabio Capello said. "I am really happy because I found the team I know. We now go forward. We can play against all the teams because the mind is now free."

Before the goal, the English players again looked nervous and lacked any fluidity. But after taking the lead, they dominated and could have scored more.

"It's been difficult for the supporters because they weren't happy with the performances," Defoe said. "A lot of the top teams have struggled so it was important to keep the spirit, which we have done."

In a juicy second-round matchup Sunday, England plays three-time World Cup winner Germany, which won Group D by edging Ghana 1-0 at Johannesburg.

The Ghanaians are the only African team to advance thus far — Ivory Coast still could, but is a long shot, and the other four are out. They will face the Americans on Saturday, which is a reprise of the final game of the opening round four years ago in Germany. Ghana knocked out the United States back then.

Australia defeated Serbia 2-1 in Nelspruit in the other match.

The 1-0 loss could have put Slovenia through, but the late American heroics by Donovan, the career scoring leader for the U.S., changed everything.

Donovan beat goalkeeper Rais Bolhi in the first minute of injury time after Clint Dempsey's shot from close range was saved. The goal was Donovan's fourth at a World Cup, equaling Bert Patenaude's American record.

"I'm shocked," Donovan said. "Clint made a good run in the middle, the ball fell to me ... time kind of stopped. You can't miss from there."

The United States nearly had another goal, but Dempsey's 21st-minute tap-in was whistled offside, even though television replays appeared to show it to be fair.

"We finished first in our group," United States coach Bob Bradley said. "Five points. Didn't lose a match. So we're ready."

First, they were ready for some celebrating as the Americans continued to alternate good and bad World Cups. They went out in the first round in 1990, '98 and 2006, but advanced in 1994, 2002 and this year. Eight years ago, they went to the quarterfinals.

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.

"A lot of kisses. A little uncomfortable," Donovan said. "It's something I'll have imbedded in my mind forever."

When the game ended, Donovan kicked the final ball into the stands.

"Someone got a nice souvenir," he said.

Algeria, which has never advanced from the group stage, finished last with one point.

Germany hasn't looked as dominating in its last two matches as it did in a 4-0 opening win over Australia, but the team still did enough to get through. The Germans have never been eliminated from the World Cup at the opening stage.

Mesut Oezil scored the lone goal, sending a hard shot from outside the area into the net in the 60th minute and giving Germany six points and first place.

"I simply shot the ball," Oezil said. "It doesn't matter whom we play next, we have to keep winning."

Ghana finished ahead of Australia on goal differential.

"It was a very difficult match, but we fought and it was enough to get us through," Ghana midfielder Andre Ayew said. "We had opportunities, but the important thing is that we went through."

Tim Cahill and Brett Holman scored in the second half for Australia, while Marko Pantelic pulled one back for Serbia. Pantelic also missed a late chance for an equalizer, which would have sent the Serbs through.

"A lot of respect for the lads. We've been through some hard times here," said Cahill, who was ejected in the team's opening match. "I'm just buzzing to hit the back of the net because this time last week my World Cup was over."