Belgium, a trendy pick and considered a dark horse by many to make it far into the knockout stages, started out in a 4-2-3-1 formation while Algeria, seeking their first win at the World Cup Finals since 1982, came out in same formation. Although Belgium dominated possession during the first half, they could not get one of their 8 shots past goalkeeper Rais M’Bohli. Axel Witsel hit a missile toward the Algerian goal in the 21st minute but Rais M’Bolhi was able to punch it away.
In the 39th minute, Belgium took a free kick where Kevin DeBruyne rolled the ball to Jan Vertonghen who missed high and wide left. In the 44th minute, Eden Hazard made a good pass to Nacer Chadli in the box but Chadli did not get a good enough handle on the ball and the shot was easily saved by Rais.
Algeria, meanwhile, was able to make their best opportunity in the first half count. In the 24th minute, Jan Vertonghen committed a sloppy tackle against Sofiane Feghouli after Faouzi Ghoulam crossed in a great ball. As Thibaut Courtois dove to his right, Feghouli slipped the spot kick past Courtois in the opposite direction. This was Algeria’s first World Cup goal since 1986 in Mexico.
Like USA-Ghana yesterday, Belgium kept pressing, looking for that equalizer in the second half. They would find that equalizer in the 70th minute when Marouane Fellaini tied up the score at 1-1 from a Kevin DeBruyne cross. Fellaini has his back to the goal when he put his head on the ball. Fellaini had been on the pitch no more than five minutes as he came on for Mousa Dembele in the 65th minute. Dries Mertens put The Red Devils on top in the 80th minute. Belgium was on the fast break with Eden Hazard taking the ball down the left flank. Hazard found Mertens streaking down the right side of the pitch unmarked and Mertens put the ball in the back of the net with a hard right footed kick. Belgium was able to hold on and win 2-1 in Belo Horizonte.
Algeria only had 3 shots the whole match and one of those shots was on-target. Belgium had ball possession for 65% of the match and had 16 shots with 10 of them being on-target. Algeria put up a great fight but The Red Devils were too much to handle. Algeria will play South Korea next while Belgium will play Russia at the Maracana in Rio on Sunday.
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