Friday, June 27, 2014 7:47 am
Islam Slimani was the hero as Algeria qualified for the World Cup second round following a 1-1 draw with Russia in their final Group H match on Thursday night.
Belgium finished top of the group with nine points – one of four nations to win all three group matches – after a scrappy 1-0 win over Korea Republic despite playing half of the match with 10 men.
Belgium fielded a much changed side as coach Marc Wilmots made seven changes from the team that beat Russia last time out, with Divock Origi and Adnan Januzaj handed their first World Cup starts against Korea.
Needing at least three goals and a draw in the other group match to qualify, the 2002 World Cup co-hosts made the brighter start with Ki Sung-yeung forcing a good save from Thibaut Cortois with a long range effort.
Stefan Defour then made a goal-line clearance of a shot deflected goalwards by teammate Moussa Dembele before getting a straight red card after stamping on the shin of Kim Shin-wook on the stroke of half-time.
The man advantage did not materialise for Korea in the second half to the point of Belgium breaking the deadlock through defender Jan Vertonghen on the rebound of Origi’s shot initially kept out by the Korea goalkeeper.
With Korea down, an early Aleksandr Kokorin header against Algeria had Russia going through to the last 16 with Belgium.
Russia edged the rest of the match from then on, with Kokorin and Shatov threatening the Algerian goal but failing to convert the chances that came their way.
They would be made to rue those missed chances as Slimani got to a Brahimi freekick ahead of Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev to head Algeria back on level terms on the hour mark.
The north Africans would hold on to claim a result that saw them join Nigeria as the only African nations in the second round.
Algeria will next face Germany on Tuesday, with the winner of that match drawn to play the winner of the last 16 match between Nigeria and France on Monday.