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World Cup 2014
 

Belgium 2 Algeria 1: Highlights, key battles and what the result means

Published on Jun 18, 2014 2:22 AM
 
Belgium's midfielder Dries Mertens (top) celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Group H football match between Belgium and Algeria at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

Viewed as dark horses for winning the World Cup, Belgium were made to endure a torrid afternoon in Belo Horizonte before edging minnows Algeria 2-1.

Ineffective in attack for much of the game, they still managed to eke out the comeback win when the Algerians began to wilt late in the game.

Highlights

- Despite dominating possession, Belgium failed to create any early chances, and were suddenly caught out by a rare Algeria attack. Left-back Jan Vertonghen was adjudged to have pulled Sofiane Fenghouli down in the box in the 25th minute. Fenghouli got up to convert the resultant penalty as Algeria scored their first World Cup Finals goal since 1986. A big upset seemed on the cards.

- Marc Wilmots' rang tactical and personnel changes in the second half, pushing men forward as Algeria's stout defence began to lose steam. In the 70th minute, they finally equalised when Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini rose high to meet a Kevin de Bruyne cross and head majestically home.

- Ten minutes later, Belgium finally edged ahead, as they surged menacingly forward in a swift counter-attack which eventually reached substitute Dries Mertens, who thumped a fine shot past Rais Mbolhi.

Key battles

- With a host of offensive talents, Belgium were still initially stifled by Algeria's defence-first mentality. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Moussa Dembele were unable to impose their will as they were crowded out in the first half.

- It wasn't until coach Wilmots rang changes in the second half, bringing in fresh and mobile players to keep putting pressure on the overworked Algerian defence, that Belgium were finally about to make the breakthough.

Man of the Match

He may not have had a great debut season with Man United, but Fellaini was inspirational when he came on as a second-half substitute, using his formidable height and power to persistently trouble Algeria. Fully deserved his equalising goal.

What the result means

Expectations went off the roof for Belgium in the lead-up to the World Cup, with many labelling them as dark horses for the title on the strength of their depth of young talents. But this match should bring a large dose of reality back to their expectations, as Belgium showed that, being out of the Cup for 12 years, they still need plenty of adapting to this high level of competition.

Algeria will be heartened by this battling display, but need similar performances against Russia and South Korea to progress.

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