World Cup - Group H
BelgiumBelgium2AlgeriaAlgeria1

Belgium 2-1 Algeria

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Highlights: Belgium 2-1 Algeria

Goals from Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens saw Belgium come from behind to beat Algeria in their World Cup Group H opener in Belo Horizonte.

The north African side took a shock lead when Sofiane Feghouli scored from the spot after being fouled by Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.

Manchester United's Fellaini, a second-half substitute, equalised with a looping header shortly after coming on.

And Mertens scored the winner when he finished off a swift counter-attack.

The 80th-minute strike prompted an eruption of relief from the Belgium bench, not least from coach Marc Wilmots, who had spent most of the match looking understandably pensive.

His side had 65% possession but for most of the game found it difficult to penetrate an Algeria defence marshalled by former Rangers centre-half Madjid Bougherra.

The European side, the seeded team in the group and widely tipped to do well in Brazil after an impressive qualifying campaign, fielded an imposing starting XI, with the Chelsea pair of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in attack, while Spurs' Mousa Dembele and former Chelsea man Kevin de Bruyne sat in midfield.

Pre-tournament fifth favourites with some bookmakers, they looked anything but for 69 minutes.

They were rocked in the 24th minute when forward Feghouli was hauled down by Vertonghen in the area as he aimed to convert Faouzi Ghoulam's cross.

The Valencia player recovered to sidefoot a tame penalty past another Blues player Thibaut Courtois, who dived the wrong way. That was Algeria's first World Cup goal since 1986 - 506 minutes of football.

Belgium's best early chances were from long distance and fell to Zenit St Petersburg's Axel Witsel, who had two efforts saved before failing to convert a header.

The pattern changed with the Belgium substitutions. First to test the goal was 19-year-old Lille striker Divock Origi, who forced a brilliant low save from Rais Mbolhi.

Gaps began to grow in a tiring Algeria defence, and a fresh Fellaini took advantage of that when he outmuscled marker Carl Medjani and flicked his effort beyond the reach of Mbolhi.

The winner came from a move that showed off Belgium's attack at its best.

De Bruyne tackled Feghouli in his own half and when the ball found its way to Hazard on the left, the PFA young player of the year sped down the wing and fed Mertens, who slammed his shot high into the net.

Belgium almost grabbed a third through Fellaini, but Mbolhi produced another good save from point-blank range.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots:

"It was a tough match but we were patient throughout and at the end we were rewarded.

"We stayed calm after doing a small mistake in the first half. We got a new momentum. We saw that Algeria were getting more and more tired. At half-time people were a bit down, but I said 'don't worry, we will score and we will change totally the match'."

Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic:

"It's a major disappointment. I would have liked to have a couple of tougher and more resilient players to resist their attacks but I don't have much of a choice.

"We missed a great opportunity here. But in the second half it was a bit tough. We left too much space to the Belgian team and the two goals scored against us were to be expected."

Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen is shown a yellow card after fouling Sofiane Feghouli
Tottenham defender Vertonghen protested against the card and penalty decision in Estadio Mineirao
Sofia Feghouli sent keeper Thibaut Courtois the wrong way
Feghouli ended Algeria's barren World Cup run in the 24th minute
Belgium supporters watch on a big screen in the Antwerp Sportpaleis in Antwerp
Belgium supporters packed an arena in Antwerp to watch the match unfold on a big screem
Belgium's midfielder Marouane Fellaini (front left) celebrates after scoring his team"s first goal
Fellaini scored Belgium's first goal at a World Cup since they were last in the competition in 2002
Dries Mertens celebrates scoring Belgium's winner
Match-winner Mertens scored 11 goals for Napoli last season

Line-ups

Belgium

  • 1Courtois
  • 2Alderweireld
  • 5VertonghenBooked at 24mins
  • 19DembéléSubstituted forFellainiat 65'minutes
  • 15van Buyten
  • 4Kompany
  • 7De Bruyne
  • 6Witsel
  • 9LukakuSubstituted forOrigiat 58'minutes
  • 22ChadliSubstituted forMertensat 45'minutes
  • 10E Hazard

Substitutes

  • 3Vermaelen
  • 8Fellaini
  • 11Mirallas
  • 12Mignolet
  • 13Bossut
  • 14Mertens
  • 16Defour
  • 17Origi
  • 18Lombaerts
  • 20Januzaj
  • 21Vanden Borre
  • 23Ciman

Algeria

  • 23M'Bolhi
  • 22Mostefa
  • 3Ghoulam
  • 12MedjaniSubstituted forGhilasat 84'minutes
  • 2Bougherra
  • 5Halliche
  • 10Feghouli
  • 19Taïder
  • 15SoudaniSubstituted forSlimaniat 66'minutes
  • 14BentalebBooked at 33mins
  • 21MahrezSubstituted forLacenat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Mohamed
  • 4Belkalem
  • 6Mesbah
  • 7Yebda
  • 8Lacen
  • 9Ghilas
  • 11Brahimi
  • 13Slimani
  • 16Zemmamouche
  • 17Cadamuro
  • 18Djabou
  • 20Mandi
Referee:
Marco Rodríguez
Attendance:
56,800

Match Stats

Home TeamBelgiumAway TeamAlgeria
Possession
Home67%
Away33%
Shots
Home17
Away3
Shots on Target
Home8
Away1
Corners
Home7
Away2
Fouls
Home20
Away18

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Belgium 2, Algeria 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Belgium 2, Algeria 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Axel Witsel (Belgium).

  4. Post update

    Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Faouzi Ghoulam.

  6. Post update

    Axel Witsel (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Nabil Ghilas (Algeria).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Eden Hazard (Belgium).

  9. Post update

    Mehdi Mostefa (Algeria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Axel Witsel (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Saphir Taïder (Algeria).

  12. Post update

    Foul by Divock Origi (Belgium).

  13. Post update

    Madjid Bougherra (Algeria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Offside, Belgium. Vincent Kompany tries a through ball, but Marouane Fellaini is caught offside.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Dries Mertens (Belgium).

  16. Post update

    Saphir Taïder (Algeria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Eden Hazard (Belgium) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria).

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Algeria. Nabil Ghilas replaces Carl Medjani.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Rais M'Bolhi.

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Brazil21103124
2Mexico21101014
3Cameroon100101-10
4Croatia100113-20

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Netherlands11005143
2Chile11003123
3Australia100113-20
4Spain100115-40

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Colombia11003033
2Ivory Coast11002113
3Japan100112-10
4Greece100103-30

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Costa Rica11003123
2Italy11002113
3England100112-10
4Uruguay100113-20

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France11003033
2Switzerland11002113
3Ecuador100112-10
4Honduras100103-30

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Argentina11002113
2Iran10100001
3Nigeria10100001
4Bos-Herze100112-10

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany11004043
2USA11002113
3Ghana100112-10
4Portugal100104-40

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium11002113
2Russia00000000
3South Korea00000000
4Algeria100112-10
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