Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Tie gives Algeria more history

CURITIBA, Brazil — Sunday, Algeria won its first World Cup match since 1982, 4-2 over South Korea. Thursday, it qualified for the knockout stage for the first time.

Islam Slimani's header in the 60th minute gave his team a 1-1 tie against Russia and the one point it needed to place second in Group H behind Belgium.

Now Algeria has another 32-year anniversary on its radar.

Monday, it meets Germany. The teams haven't met since 1982, when Algeria beat tournament favorite West Germany. Though it won another game in that tournament, Algeria failed to qualify for the second round after West Germany and Austria conspired to give West Germany a 1-0 win that allowed both to advance.

Thursday's tie prompted mass celebrations in the packed Algerian section and on the field.

"Algeria played a heroic match," coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. "Our qualification is perfectly deserved."

Russia, needing a win to advance, went up 1-0 in the sixth minute when Alexander Kokorin headed in a cross.

Slimani's equalizer came after goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev failed to catch a free kick. But there were indications on the TV broadcast that a green laser was shone toward the keeper just before the kick was taken.

Russia coach Fabio Capello said his keeper was "blinded by the laser beam."

Halilhodzic said he saw nothing.

"I think it's something that we can discuss in a restaurant, in a bar," he said.

"Now let's talk about a game that was very demanding."

Russia now waits until 2018, when it hosts and won't have to qualify.

"I can't say there were any mistakes (Thursday)," Capello said. "There just weren't."

Belgium 1, S. Korea 0: Jan Vertonghen put in a rebound in the 78th as Belgium clinched Group H despite playing with 10 men. Midfielder Steven Defour was ejected in the 45th when he planted his studs, leg outstretched, into the shin of Kim Shin-wook. Defour, who started for the rested Axel Witsel, must sit out against the United States. Belgium went 3-0 in group play, each a one-goal game. "We knew all games were going to be tough," coach Marc Wilmots said. "But even with 10 men, we still pushed forward." South Korea entered needing to win by a large margin and for Russia to beat Algeria. Its best scoring chance came when it hit the crossbar in the 60th minute. "All of our players did their utmost," coach Hong Myung-Bo said. "But it was my shortcoming, my failing as a coach, that caused this result."

Portugal 2, Ghana 1: Cristiano Ronaldo, the world player of the year, scored his first goal of the tournament, an 80th-minute winner for Portugal. Ronaldo barely celebrated his goal, which came after the keeper knocked a cross right to him in the slot and after it became clear Portugal wouldn't score enough goals to overcome the United States in goal differential. "We deserved more, but that's football," Ronaldo said. "We are leaving with our heads held high." A 2-1 win would have put Ghana into the next round, but it allowed an own goal in the 31st. Said coach Kwesi Appiah: "We had our chances but couldn't take them."

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