Abdelmoumene Djabou

Brave Algeria beaten in extra time by Schurrle, Ozil; Germany through

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It was going to take a heroic feat for Germany to score on Algeria goalkeeper Rais M’Bohli, and Andre Schurrle did just that.

Thomas Muller found Schurrle 90 seconds into extra time, and the first goal of the game was equal parts beautiful and decisive. Schurrle used his back foot to flick the ball behind his body and past M’Bohli for the game’s first lead in what would finish 2-1 in Porto Alegre.

Germany’s second came in the 119th minute, and it took even more work to beat M’Bohli and an exhausted Algeria. Mesut Ozil and Schurrle each had shots before Ozil sent a rebound home.

Algeria added a Abdelmoumene Djabou goal in the 121st minute, but it’ll be Germany and France in the quarterfinals on Friday at Noon ET.

Germany outshot Algeria 28-10 and held 58 percent possession.

Algeria’s first half was something to watch, as the Desert Foxes continually provided counterattacks and probing balls past Germany’s defense. The Germans looked slow, white trees in a storm of green flashes.

Here’s what we were saying at halftime.

Germany held sway in the second half, but needed to find that final ball. Algeria goalkeeper Rais M’Bohli, a back-up in club soccer but likely not for long, made save after save against the heavy favorites.

The 81st minute saw Germany restore a bit of order, as Andre Schurrle’s brilliant cross was strongly headed by Thomas Muller, but M’Bohli was there to punch it away.

A minute later, Muller juggled around Belkalem put his shot with the outside of his foot went wide of the goal. The drama was being dished out in heaping doses, but still no goals.

M’Bohli, who is a No. 2 to Tomas Cerny as Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, was an absolute all-star. So, to be fair, was Germany’s high-profile backstop Manuel Neuer, who was forced to come flying out of his 18 on multiple occasions to save his team.

And so we went to extra time. Would Algeria have the horses to find a goal, or even carry this to penalty kicks?

We didn’t have to wait long to find out:

The second period of extra time featured a foul on Brahimi that tore his shorts and allowed Algeria a free kick from 28 yards out. A brilliant kick from Algeria bounced once in front of Neuer before he collected it, as the Desert Foxes couldn’t get there.

The questions will be whether Germany had too much taken out of them by this grueling match, as well as if they truly are favorites against a France team that has looked at ease for much of the tournament.

Lineups

Germany: Neuer; Mustafi (Khedira, 69′), Mertesacker, Boateng, Höwedes; Lahm (C), Schweinsteiger (Kramer, 109′), Özil, Kroos, Götze (Schurrle, 46′), Müller

Goals: Schurrle (91′), Ozil (119′)

Algeria: M’Bolhi, Mandi, Belkalem, Halliche (Bougherra, 97′), Ghoulam, Feghouli, Lacen, Taider (Brahimi, 78′), Mahrez, Soudani (Djabou, 100′), Slimani

Goal: Djabou (120’+1)

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.

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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′

At halftime: Furious Algerian pressure overwhelms South Korea for 3-0 lead

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Story of the game: Algeria made significant attacking changes to their lineup, and boy did it pay off in the first 45 minutes against South Korea.

With both group underdogs looking to take three points from this crucial match if they are to have any hope at a surprise knockout phase appearance, the Algerians clearly wanted it more. They played a smash-and-grab attack and caught the South Koreans completely off guard.

Islam Slimani, on the bench for Algeria’s first match, got the start up front and played beautifully, picking up a goal and assist in the first half.

Goals:

26′ – After poking just about every pressure point in the South Korean defense, Algeria found their breakthrough straight up the middle.  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.

28′ – Algeria weren’t finished, and their attacking flair earned another goal. 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.

38′ – 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.

Other key moments:

4′ – Algeria started the much better and more attacking side, and nearly produced a goal right away.  Sofiane Fegouhli was brought down in the box but no foul called by the Colombian referee.  Yacine Brahimi ended up scuffing the shot over.

9′ – With Algeria still asking all the questions, a corner found Islam Slimani at the far post, but his free header went just wide and into the side netting.

LINEUPS:

South Korea: S R Jung, S Y Yun, Y G Kim, H M Son, C Y Park, Y Lee, J C Koo, K Y Han, S Y Ki, C Y Lee, J H Hong.

Algeria: Mbolhi, Bouguerra, Halliche, Mesbah, Feghouli, Brahimi, Medjani, Slimani, Bentaleb, Djabou, Mandi.

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

Key players:

  • Islam Slimani – By far the most dangerous Algerian in the first half, he was incisive on the ball and smart off it.  He found spaces in every situation he was put in, and has his country well in front.
  • Sofiane Feghouli – With both pressure in the midfield and chances at the front, Feghouli shadowed Slimani and proved dangerous in doing so.

Numbers to know:

  • 86% – The passing accuracy of Algeria, 14% better than their full opening match against Belgium.
  • 25 – The number of successful attacking-third passes for Algeria in the first half, 20 of which came on the left flank.
  • 8 – The amount of touches South Korean star Son Heung-Min had in the first half (7 passes received, 1 interception), one of which came in the Algerian box. He did not produce a shot.

Questions for the second half:

  • Can Algeria maintain this heavy pressure for another 45 minutes? Smash-and-grab is exhausting, and the Algerians clearly worked incredibly hard to build this lead. The biggest question for them is will they change things up and sit back to hold on, or will they continue to pour on the pressure and risk getting tired very early?
  • Is South Korea emotionally sunk? Anytime a team falls behind by three goals this early, it’s always a valid to ask if they’re too far back, physically and emotionally.  Can they break through this furious Algerian pressure to get their forwards the ball?