Early Algerian flurry sets stage for comprehensive 4-2 win over South Korea

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Algeria pummeled South Korea in the first half, and it earned the Africans an insurmountable lead en route to a 4-2 victory in Group H play.

Having made five changes from the 2-1 loss to Belgium, Algeria heaved the ball forward on every chance, and it bore fruit throughout the match as they earned their first World Cup win since 1982.

Algeria had chances from the opening whistle to the final one, with the pair of Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani proving the most dangerous early and often.

After poking just about every pressure point in the South Korean defense in the first 20 minutes, Algeria found their breakthrough straight up the middle just before the half-hour mark.

A long ball up the gut found a charging Slimani, and he powered his way through a pair of defenders unable to keep up, and touched the ball past the keeper for the opener.  But that was just the start.

Their attacking flair earned another goal just two minutes later. A corner flew into the South Korean box, and goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong misjudged the flight of the ball. He came out too far for the punch, and Algerian defender Rafik Halliche beat him to the ball and scored with a powerful header.

The pressure flooded South Korea, with the leaders going into halftime having already completed a whopping 14 of 22 attempted tackles, eight of which came in the middle third of the pitch. In comparison, South Korea completed just six total.

It would earn the Algerians a third before the break, as Slimani cut through the South Korean defense, and the Algerians continued their blitzkrieg. In space in the box, he brilliantly touched the ball with the outside of his foot across two defenders to a wide-open Abdelmoumene Djabou for an easy low finish.

[ MORE: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

Algeria failed to come out of the half with the same cutting edge, and the South Koreans pulled one back just five minutes after the break. Bayer Leverkusen’s Hong-Min Son, who had just eight touches in the first half, beat

The South Koreans continued to be the more incisive team, but they had only a few chances on goal after the Algerians seeked to shut them down. On the hour mark, Sung-Yeung Ki ripped a swerving shot on goal that forced an acrobatic save by Rais M’Bolhi.

But it wouldn’t be enough, as the Algerians produced a fourth just minutes later, a stunning piece of team play. Exploiting the left flank as they had all game, Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi teamed up for a perfect one-two in the box to produce an easy finish for Brahimi to put the game away.

The goal set Algeria as the first African team ever to score four goals in a World Cup match.

South Korea would pull off a second thanks to some chaos at the back for Algeria in the 72nd minute. Son held the ball in a dangerous position in the box, but an excellent tackle by Madjid Bouguerra dispossessed the South Korean star. Unfortunately the ball fell right to Keun-Ho Lee who crossed to an open Ja-Cheol Koo who tapped in from close range.

That was all they could muster, however, and the South Koreans are in a dire position with just the match against Belgium remaining and sitting on one point. Meanwhile, Algeria now has four, putting them second in Group H with a chance to earn a place in the knockout round with a win or draw against Russia in their final match.

LINEUPS:

South Korea: SR Jung, SY Yun, YG Kim, HM Son, CY Park (SW Kim, 57′), Y Lee, JC Koo, KY Han, SY Ki, CY Lee (KH Lee 64′), JH Hong.

Goals – Son 50′, Koo 72′

Algeria: Mbolhi, Bouguerra, Halliche, Mesbah, Feghouli, Brahimi (Lacen 77′), Medjani, Slimani, Bentaleb, Djabou (Ghilas 73′), Mandi.

Goals – Slimani 26′, Halliche 28′, Djabou 38′, Brahimi 62′

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.

Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty

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A horror tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor snapped Seamus Coleman‘s leg in gruesome fashion on Friday.

Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.

“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.

This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.

Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, and Phil Jagielka have played some right back for Everton, while Ramiro Funes Mori has deputized at left back.

Emotional McClean speaks after honoring deceased teammate (video)

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After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.

Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).

“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.

“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”