Football

Islam Slimani fires Algeria through to knock-out stages

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Sporting Lisbon striker Islam Slimani fired Algeria into the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

The 26-year old headed home a controversial equaliser to earn his team a place in the round of 16 where they'll take on three-time world champions Germany.

Vahid Halilhodžić went into the game knowing a draw would be enough for them to join Nigeria as Africa's representatives in the knock-out stages.

However, things got off to a terrible start when Aleksandr Kokorin headed in a Dmitri Kombarov cross after just six minutes.

Disappointingly for the Algerian's, Kokorin was allowed to jump completely unchallenged to power his header past Rais M'bolhi, meaning Fabio Capello's side were in the driving seat in the race for second spot.

The goal was just Russia's second of the tournament following a 1-1 draw with South Korea and a 1-0 defeat to Belgium, but Capello would not have cared had his team held on.

However, Sporting striker Slimani had different ideas and he scored a header of his own on the hour mark.

Having tested Igor Akinfeev with two headers in the first half, Slimani finally beat the Russian goalkeeper to send the Algerians into ecstasy.

Capello was far from happy though, with replays showing Akinfeev was targeted with a laser pen from the stands just seconds before the goal.

The CSKA Moscow keeper has tried to bring the incident to the attention of the referee but to no avail, and when Yacine Brahimi delivered a free kick from the left he came racing off his line.

Unfortunately for Russia he got nowhere near the ball and Slimani, a target for a trio of Premier League clubs, was on hand to head home one of the most famous goals in Algerian footballing history.

With 30 minutes left to play Russia still had time to pursue a winner but the Algerian defence held strong, leaving Capello to bemoan the equalising goal.

The former England boss said: "Our goalkeeper was affected by a laser 10 seconds before the goal. He was blinded by a laser, there are photos, films of it. I'm not looking
for excuses. I accept defeats."

Elimination means Russia have now failed to progress past the group stage in their last three World Cup appearances, but they'll be desperate to correct that when they host the tournament in 2018.

In contrast Algeria head into the last 16 for the first time ever thanks largely to the goals of Slimani, who also scored in the 4-2 victory over South Korea.

Not only has the Sporting man marked his name in Algerian history, his impressive performances may well have earned him a lucrative move to the Premier League.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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