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Victorine's kick puts U.S. men in semis

In first Games game, the MLS player takes, and makes, the final penalty kick in shootout win vs. Japan.

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000


ADELAIDE, Australia -- Sasha Victorine hadn't played one minute in these Games until he was sent into the U.S.-Japan game Saturday when it went into sudden-death overtime.

It proved to be the most astute move yet by U.S. coach Clive Charles, because the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder's calmly taken penalty-kick goal clinched a place in the semifinals for the Americans.

"I was talking to my family, and everybody's been really supportive of me," Victorine said. "They've all been wishing that I got in there and played a little bit. I told them I'd get my shot, and when I did, it was just (a matter of) making the most of it.

"It's kind of weird, your first game in the Olympics and having the chance to make the fifth PK to send the team on to a chance for a medal. It's just amazing.

"I wanted to make sure I hit it solid. That was my key, to hit it solid and put it on frame. If he makes the save, he makes the save."

After Victorine converted his penalty kick just inside the post to the left of bloodied goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki, the entire American squad sprinted onto the field as if it had won the World Cup, tearing off shirts and pumping clenched fists.

They had rallied twice, including a penalty kick by Pete Vagenas that tied the score at 2 in the last minute after a dubious call by Zimbabwean referee Felix Onias Tangawarima.

Josh Wolff and Tomoyuki Sakai were vying for the ball when the U.S. striker was barely pushed from behind and appeared to take a dive near the end line as the ball went out of bounds.

In the semifinals Tuesday, the United States plays Spain, 1-0 winners over Italy.

Fast facts: men's soccer

The U.S. team advanced to the semifinals for the first time, but the road ahead is difficult. The highlights:

U.S. 2, JAPAN 2 (5-4 PENALTY KICKS): U.S. substitute Sasha Victorine blasted a penalty kick just past the desperate dive of goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki. The Americans won the shootout after tying the score on Pete Vagenas' penalty kick in the final minute of regulation.

SPAIN 1, ITALY 0: Gabriel "Gabri" Garcia scored off the left goalpost in the 87th minute to lift Spain, which won the 1992 Games. The midfielder, who replaced Raul Tamudo in the 70th minute, brought a capacity crowd to its feet after a largely lifeless match between the European powers.

CHILE 4, NIGERIA 1: Veteran striker Ivan Zamorano scored one goal and assisted on another as Chile routed defending champion Nigeria 4-1. This is the first time Chile has made it this far in the tournament. The team remains Chile's last chance to win a medal in these Games.

CAMEROON 2, BRAZIL 1: Modeste Mbami scored in overtime for undermanned Cameroon to eliminate the favorite. The Africans had two players sent off during the first 90 minutes. The Brazilians, who tied it 12 seconds from the end of injury time, couldn't get another shot past 16-year-old goalkeeper Carlos Kameni.

- Compiled from Times wires.

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