Algeria advanced to the knockout stage at a World Cup for the first time in their history, and became the first North African team to advance since 1986, as they tied Russia 1-1 at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba to conclude Group H play on Thursday.
Russia got the early lead with a goal by Aleksandr Kokorin. But the Fennec Foxes battled back and Islam Slimani scored his second goal in two games, this one on a header off a free kick from Yacine Brahimi in the 60th minute, to give the Algerians a share of the points, and more importantly, a place in the Round of 16.
SHORTHANDED ALGERIA OPEN THE DOOR EARLY: Kokorin opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a free header in the middle of the box off a cross from Dmitri Kombarov. Algeria were temporarily down to 10 men on the goal, as star winger Sofiane Feghouli received medical attention on the sideline due to a head injury.
GREEN IN AKINFEEV'S EYES : No, not the green of Algeria's uniforms, or the green grass. In the moments leading up to Slimani's equalizer, Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was forced to deal with a spectator attempting to direct a laser pointer in his eyes, and appearing to succeed, at least briefly. Akinfeev complained to the officials, but it did not appear that any action was taken to help the netminder do his job. Of course, Slimani looked to clearly beat Akinfeev on the goal itself.
HISTORY MADE BY ALGERIA, 32 YEARS LATER : The African team makes the knockout stage for the first time in four tries at the World Cup, and likely helps heal the wounds of 1982, Algeria's first World Cup, in which they should have advanced after defeating West Germany and Chile, but fell victim to collusion between Germany and Austria in the "Disgrace of Gijon," which knocked them out of the tournament.
In 2014, Algeria will get to face Group G winners Germany in the Round of 16. The Germans will surely be favored this time around, but can Algeria provide the greatest revenge of all, another upset win over the Europeans 32 years later?
WILL CAPELLO STICK AROUND? Once again, a Fabio Capello-led team at the World Cup tied Algeria in the group stage, following England's 0-0 draw against the Fennec Foxes in 2010. While the pressure will firmly be on Russia in 2018, when they will host the tournament, their group-stage exit this year in what was a pretty open group must be considered a disappointment. Capello is currently under contract through the end of the 2018 World Cup, but on the back of this performance, will he really make it to the next World Cup?
He does wear Russia's colors well:
MAN OF THE MATCH: Slimani -- Continued his scoring run with arguably the biggest goal of the tournament for the Algerians, and provided them with an unforgettable moment in their group-stage finale, to exorcise the demons of 1982 ... not to mention 2010.