Algeria will play Germany in the last 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after a 1-1 draw with Russia in Curitiba saw them through as Group H runners-up.
The Algerians are through to the knockout stages for the first time in their history, as Islam Slimani’s equaliser on the hour mark cancelled out Aleksandr Kokorin’s opener after just six minutes.
Victory would have secured their progress for certain, but the point proved to be enough when already-qualified Belgium overcame South Korea 1-0 in Sao Paulo.
Jan Vertonghen scored the winner with 12 minutes to play as Marc Wilmots’ men maintained their 100% group record, despite having Steven Defour sent off before the break.
Algeria have infamously experienced group stage heartache of the highest order in the past. The most famous coming in the notorious 1-0 West Germany win over Austria in 1982 which saw both sides effectively fix the result to take them through at the expense of the Desert Foxes.
It looked like they were going to be the receiving end of more first round woe after just six minutes. The Russians needed to win to have any chance of progressing and got off to the perfect start, when a Dimitri Kombarov cross was met by Kokorin whose rose highest in the area to power home a header.
Valid Halilhodzic’s men got themselves back on level terms with half an hour to play. Yacine Brahimi sent in a free kick from the left, which was missed by Igor Akinfeev before Slimani headed into an empty net.
That proved to be enough and wild celebrations followed at the final whistle, as Algeria have bagged themselves a huge scalp in facing the Germans in the last 16.
Over at Arena da Sao Paulo, Belgium made it nine points from nine after a later winner against South Korea which will see them face USA in the second round.
Having already qualified, Wilmots made seven changes from the win against Russia. One of them was Defour, who was shown a straight red card on 44 minutes for a needless stamp on the leg of Kim Shin-Wook.
The breakthrough went the Europeans’ way though with 12 minutes left when substitute Divock Origi’s powerful effort could only be parried by Kim Seung-Gyu, and Vertonghen was first on the scene to gobble up the rebound.
Confirmation of the Group H standings then see the Belgians way out at the top with maximum points, with Algeria second on four. Russia are third with two and South Korea prop up the rest with one.
The group stages are complete! What a tournament it has been so far, and hopefully there will be even more brilliant football still to come as we enter the knockout phases.