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U.S. 2, Japan 2 (5-4 penalty kicks)

September 23, 2000

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) _ Look out Sydney, here they come.

After edging Japan 5-4 in a sudden-death penalty shootout after two periods of overtime in Saturday’s quarterfinals, the U.S. men’s soccer team is Sydney-bound and hungry for that ``Olympic feeling.″

The U.S. men, who’d never before advanced out of the first round at an Olympic tournament, now go into a semifinal Tuesday against Spain, a 1-0 winner over Italy in another quarterfinal.

Josh Wolff scored the Americans’ first goal to tie it 1-1, then earned a last-minute penalty kick, which Pete Vagenas put home, sending the game into overtime.

He then took the critical fourth kick in the shootout after Japan missed its fourth. Wolff gave the United States an edge for the first time, before leading the celebrations as the jubilant bench spilled onto the field when Sasha Victorine nailed the winner.

``We’re pumped,″ said Wolff, who scored a goal, had an assist and earned a penalty kick in the preliminaries as the United States won Group C at 1-0-2. ``Me, I’m just excited about going to Sydney to be a part of the Olympics. It’s going to be pretty wild. We’re going for a medal and its going to be exciting.″

Victorine, who came on as a substitute in overtime, put the fifth penalty kick just past the desperate dive of goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki. He said minute-for-minute, it was the greatest game of his career after he hadn’t played a minute in the three preliminaries.

``Coming off the bench into a situation like that is amazing,″ Victorine said. ``I don’t know, it was just incredible to be able to come in and help the team like that.″

While Wolff described the win as the defining moment in the team’s history, Vagenas said the entire game was ``surreal.″

``I don’t think it’s sunk in _ maybe when we leave to play in the semifinal it might hit me,″ he said.

After Victorine scored 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 Americans rallied twice, including Vagenas’ penalty kick after a dubious call by Zimbabwean referee Felix Onias Tangawarima.

Wolff and Tomoyuki Sakai 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.

His performance convinced Tangawarima it was a foul.

Wolff defended the referee’s decision, saying the penalty was warranted.

``I got myself in front, he clipped my feet and I was forced down,″ he said. ``It was a good PK to give us a tie, and fortunately we won it on penalty kicks.

``I don’t think we were dead at any point. We were down twice, but we kept up the spirit ... and deserved what we got,″ he said.

Philippe Troussier, head coach of the Japanese team, said he didn’t want to dwell on refereeing decisions.

``Of course we’re a little frustrated,″ he said. ``We have to accept the result. The USA won, Japan lost.

``We had a lot of chances to score, it’s a pity for us. Today was a very good match for both teams. Good luck to the USA.″

Exhausted, and with the bulk of the 18,345 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, while Japan’s Shunsuke Nakamura, Junichi Inamoto and Ryuzo Morioka beat goalie Brad Friedel.

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, lifting his shot into the roof of the net. After Japan scored again, Victorine ended it _ and began the wild exultations.

Friedel, who made a stunning, diving save in overtime, getting his fingertips to Nakata’s drive to keep the Americans alive, said it was the biggest thrill of his career.

``This is a big moment for American soccer,″ said Friedel, one of three over-age players on the under-23 roster. ``To make it this far in a tournament of this magnitude, this is just fantastic.″

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 Friedel in the 72nd minute.

Spain 1, Italy 0

At Sydney, Gabriel ``Gabri″ Garcia scored off the left goalpost in the 87th minute. The substitute midfielder brought a capacity crowd to its feet after a largely lifeless match between the European powers. Taking a ball from Xavier ``Xavi″ Hernandez on the right side of the penalty area, Gabri sent a low skipping shot that hit the inside of the far post before bouncing in.

Cameroon 2, Brazil 1, OT

At Brisbane, Modeste Mbami scored in overtime for undermanned Cameroon . The Africans had two players sent off during the first 90 minutes.

But the Brazilians, who tied it only 12 seconds from the end of injury time on a free kick by Ronaldinho, couldn’t get another shot past 16-year-old goalkeeper Carlos Kameni.

Instead, it was Cameroon that broke out with three men attacking two Brazilian defenders. Mbami took a sideways pass before firing past goalkeeper Helton for the winner.

The Brazilains were jeered off the field by the fans.

Chile 4, Nigeria 1

At Melbourne, veteran striker Ivan Zamorano scored one goal and assisted on another. Pablo Contreras, Reinaldo Navia and Rodrigo Tello also scored for Chile. Tello also had two assists.

Victor Agelin netted the Nigerian goal with 14 minutes to go.

It was the first time Chile made it so far in the Olympic tournament.

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