Manchester United’s rising star Adnan Januzaj has heaped praise on his fellow Red Devils team-mate Marouane Fellaini, after his second-half introduction inspired Belgium to comeback from behind and claim an opening World Cup win over Algeria.
Belgium, touted by many as ‘dark hoses’ for the tournament, have an array of talent spouting from all areas of their squad that should perhaps warrant them as genuine contenders, rather than outsiders.
However, judging by their performance against a resilient and disciplined Algeria side, they may not have quite found their spark just yet.
They struggled to create chances and break down their African opponents during the opening Group H clash and found themselves 1-0 down at half-time. Sofiane Feghouli coolly converted a spot-kick following Jan Vertonghen’s lackadaisical foul on the Valencia midfielder.
The Belgium manager, Marc Wilmots, sensed his side needed something different and with his final roll of the dice he turned to the United man Fellaini and the midfielder did not shy away.
Many groaned that it was not the 19-year-old, Januzaj, coming on as he is seen as having that creative spark that could unlock any defence.
Although, the groans soon quietened as Fellaini, following a disappointing debut season at Old Trafford, equalised almost instantly with a bullet header from a perfect Kevin De Bruyne cross.
Dries Mertens smashed home what turned out to be the winner in the 80th minute, before the former Everton man came close to adding a third for Belgium.
Januzaj, an unused substitute, made the Belgium World Cup squad after an impressive debut season in the Premier League and has heaped praise on Fellaini, stating that the midfielder deserves more credit for his contributions.
He told The National: “I think Marouane can be a player for Manchester United because he is a great player. We saw that today against Algeria, his header was unbelievable.
“When he came [to United], it was difficult for him, but he’s the type of player who can always help the team and he scored an unbelievable goal for us.”
Fellaini certainly provided something different to the Belgium attack and caused the Algeria defence numerous problems aerially. His presence on the field alone seemed to occupy the defenders and leave more space for the likes of Eden Hazard and Mertens to roam free.
For many his impact was regarded as a shock, but for anyone that saw the big-haired beast during his days at Everton would know that when he is used correctly, he can be devastating.
Which makes David Moyes' use of him at United even more bewildering, as you would have thought he would be the man to know how to use him the best, having first brought him to England when he signed him for the Toffees in 2008 from Standard Liège.
Januzaj, who has only played twice for Belgium so far, is eager to make his World Cup bow and make a similar impact to his fellow team-mate.
“I’m hoping to play myself, but I have to be patient as we have a great team,” said Januzaj. “Today was the first game. We have a lot of games coming and I have to wait, but I’m always ready to play.”
After this display Wilmots will have plenty of thinking to do before his side face Russia on Sunday.
Fabio Capello’s side were held to a 1-1 draw against South Korea in their opening fixture, which leaves the Belgians in pole position to top Group H.
However they will need to improve on their stuttering performance against Algeria if they are to progress much further in the tournament.
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