Algeria, Russia set sights on knockout round (TSN 1050, TSN 690, TEAM 1410)
Curitiba, Brazil - Russia and Algeria will close out the group stage of the World Cup on Thursday with a crucial Group H clash at the Arena da Baixada, with both sides hoping to secure a knockout round berth.
Algeria enters the match riding a wave of unexpected confidence after pummeling South Korea, 4-2, in Porto Alegre on Sunday.
The Desert Foxes opened the scoring after 26 minutes as Carl Medjani sent a long ball over the top to the feet of striker Islam Slimani, who did well to split two South Korean defenders and touch it past goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong.
Two minutes later the Algerians doubled their advantage when Abdelmoumene Djabou served a perfect corner kick into the penalty area where Halliche got to the ball ahead of an out-of-position Jung and nodded it home with pace.
Djabou then made it 3-0 for Algeria seven minutes before the intermission when he found himself alone in the box to accept a square ball from Slimani and slide it home for a three-goal halftime lead.
South Korea got back into the match five minutes into the second half when Son Heung-Min collected a long pass from Ki Sung-Yueng, turned and beat Algeria goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi through the legs.
But Algeria regained the three goal lead in the 62nd minute as Sofiane Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi worked a nice one-two on the edge of the penalty area to send Brahimi through on goal and he finished by ripping a strike under Jung.
Again South Korea pulled one back through Koo Ja-Cheol, but it wasn't enough as the Desert Foxes held on for the win. Vahid Halilhodzic's side can advance to the round of 16 on Thursday with at least a draw.
"I would like to dedicate this victory to the fans who were here and the Algerian people back home who have waited a long time for this victory. It means a lot to us all," Halilhodzic said."Today the team played to its strengths. I told the players to keep it tight for the first 15 minutes and I felt that did extremely well and effectively in the first half - it was almost perfect. We slowed a little during the second half, why I'm not sure. Now we have to try to get a good result against Russia and qualify for the round of 16. Anything is possible."
Russia, meanwhile, faces an uphill climb to reach the knockout round following their 1-0 loss to Belgium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
The first 80 minutes of the match produced little in the way of offensive output for either side, but Divock Origi gave the match its one moment of quality two minutes from time to hand Belgium its second win in as many games.
Chelsea star Eden Hazard set the scoring play in motion when he ook possession of the ball on the left wing and dribbled to the end line, where he pulled a pass back to Origi, who struck it first-time into the roof of the net past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
Russia needs to win to have any chance of advancing. A one-goal win for Russia means that South Korea would have to beat Belgium by three, while a two-goal margin for Russia makes them a near lock to advance.
Anything less than a win, however, and Fabio Capello's team will be eliminated.
"I still believe we have a chance, but we now have no choice but to beat Algeria," said Capello. "Today we went out to win the match, but we got caught on the counter-attack - it's as simple as that."