Algeria exploded onto the scene in Group H with their first World Cup win since 1982: Goals from Islam Slimani, Rafik Halliche, Abdelmoumene Djabou and Yacine Brahimi resulted in a 4-2 dismantling of South Korea on Sunday at Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre.
On the ropes after their opening 2-1 loss to Belgium, the Fennec Foxes, who became the first African side to record four goals in a World Cup game, now jump into second place in the group with one match remaining on June 26 against Russia in Curitiba.
South Korea, who drew Russia in their opener, gave the match some intrigue with second-half goals from Son Heung-Min and Koo Ja-Cheol but they are in dire straights facing their final group-stage match against front-running Belgium in Sao Paulo.
QUICK-STRIKE FOXES: After seeing the best chances through the first 25 minutes, Algeria struck with a decisive one-two blow. Slimani opened the scoring in the 26th minute when he ran onto the end of a long ball straight up the middle of the park from Carl Medjani. The Sporting Lisbon striker sliced between South Korea defenders Kim Young-Gwon and Hong Jeong-Ho for a clever touch past onrushing goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong. Then, just two minutes later, Halliche rose to meet an Abdelmoumene Djabou corner kick for a booming header goal and 2-0 lead.
FLOODGATES: After scoring just one goal – from a penalty kick in their last game – in their previous four World Cup contests and only two goals in their previous 685 minutes coming into the match, Algeria opened the floodgates in the 38th minute when Djabou got in on the fun. He slotted easily past Jung after a Slimani pass from the left wing eradicated the South Korea backline. Son gave South Korea a bit of life early in the second half, but Brahimi left no doubt with a 62nd-minute goal for a 4-1 lead after a stellar build-up was culminated by a flawless give-and-go with the feed coming from Sofiane Feghouli.
MAGIC TOUCH: After nearly escaping with a result after taking a 1-0 lead on Belgium in their opening match, Algeria manager Vahid Halihodzic made five changes to the XI. The most important of which was inserting Slimani, the Foxes’ top scorer in qualification, at forward and Brahimi at attacking midfield.
TOOTHLESS SOUTH KOREA: Through the first 135 minutes of this World Cup, the Taegeuk Warriors showed little fight. After just 10 shots against Russia, with their only goal coming thanks to a gaffe from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, South Korea didn’t manage a single shot in the first half against Algeria. Things opened up in the second half, highlighted by Son’s goal through the legs of Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi five minutes after the break and then Koo’s 72nd-minute goal on a feed from Lee Keun-Ho.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Slimani, Algeria. The 26-year-old striker showed why he probably should have been included in Algeria’s loss to Belgium. With an assist and goal on five shots, he was the most dangerous man on the field.