Enough with the conservative approach, forget dancing around the pitch – it's time to throw some haymakers. No one gives you anything in this tournament, you have to take it.
Algeria opened the World Cup with a tentative, risk-averse 2-1 loss to Belgium last Tuesday, and that unsuccessful game plan was subsequently thrown into the rubbish. With a tweaked lineup and a wide-open approach on tap for Sunday, Algeria quickly imposed its will on South Korea, scoring three times in the first half en route to a 4-2 triumph.
Party like it's 1982 – that's the last time Algeria won a World Cup game. Now it looks for bigger things: advancing past the opening round for the first time ever.
Sunday's opening 45 mintues were nothing short of domination: Algeria collected 12 shots, South Korea zero. The Algerians had some trouble putting their attempts on target in the opening sequences, but once they found the range, it was a dam breaking.
Islam Slimani opened the scoring in the 26th minute, taking a gorgeous long ball from Carl Medjani and splitting two defenders. He finished neatly, chipping the ball over sliding keeper Jung Sung-Ryong.
Jung tried to take matters into his own hands two minutes later, aggressively coming off his line to field a corner cross. Alas, he mistimed his jump, gifting an easy header tally to Algeria's Rafik Halliche. Two-nil.
Another defensive breakdown led to the third score, as Hong Jeong-Ho couldn't handle a long ball at the top of the box. Slimani collected, then laid a smart ball to Abdelmoumene Djabou at the penalty spot. Easy conversion.
To South Korea's credit, it played a strong second half and at least made the matter interesting. Son Heung-Min (exquisite in the final 45) converted off a pretty stop-and-go move, and a tic-tac-toe sequence between Son, Lee Keun-Ho and Koo Ja-Cheol resulted in a second goal.
But South Korea is not a team built to offset a big deficit, and the Algerians countered with a splashy fourth goal of their own (a Sofiane Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi combination, finished by the latter). Defender Aissa Mandi also chipped in, with an emergency header on the line.
Man of the Match
Slimani was cold-blooded in the opening 45, running around and through defenders and cashing in on his chances (goal, assist). Here's the game-opening tally, broken down from the future.
In a game chock-full of pretty goals, Algeria's final tally, from Brahimi, was probably the best.
Don't worry for this man, he's just put his country ahead.
With Belgium already advanced to the next round, Algeria and Russia are basically playing a Group H elimination game on Thursday. Algeria moves on with a victory and probably gets the job done with a draw as well, unless South Korea shockingly crushes Belgium at the same time. Russia needs a victory to advance – and for South Korea not to repair its goal-differential problem against Belgium (which, again, seems rather unlikely).
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