By Steve Keating
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, June 30 (Reuters) - Algeria saw their dreams of a World Cup quarter-final disappear like a mirage on Monday after a 2-1 loss in extra time to Germany, leaving defender Madjid Bougherra to rue what might have been had the Desert Foxes' scoring touch not deserted them.
Determined defending and the brilliant goalkeeping of Rais Mbolhi had kept Germany at bay in a scoreless 90 minutes, while Algeria had several chances to put the game away and claim the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
Despite their defensive heroics, Algeria looked lost for ideas in attack and the lack of a quality finisher left them lamenting a string of missed first-half chances.
"A goal in the first half would have helped us and we would have been more confident if we had scored because in the first half (we had) so many chances," said Bougherra.
"We would have been more confident, we would have believed in ourselves even more and I think.
"We believed in ourselves right until the end. We scored in injury time and showed when this team plays with its heart it can really succeed."
Algeria arrived in Brazil having not scored at the World Cup since 1986 but ended that 28-year drought in a 2-1 loss to Belgium in their Group H opener.
The floodgates opened in the next game as Algeria scored four goals -- the most by an African nation in a single World Cup game -- in a 4-2 victory over South Korea.
After coming from behind to draw 1-1 with Russia and seal their place in the last 16, Algeria's brave adventure came to an in Porto Alegre on Monday, with Abdelmoumene Djabou's consolation goal just before the final whistle.
Germany took their time getting into their stride at the Beira Rio stadium, with most of the thrills in the opening half coming from swift Algerian counter-attacks.
A few minutes later Sofiane Feghouli cut in nicely from the right but his shot went astray. Slimani hit the net with a diving header from a cross in the 16th minute but it was ruled offside.
But three-time champions Germany weathered the storm and in the second half began to show their class, relentlessly pushing forward but unable to put the ball past the magnificent Mbolhi.
In extra time the Europeans finally broke Algerian resistance with goals from Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil.
"It's true we are part of Algeria football history, we went farther than any other team before," said Mbolhi, who was named man of the match.
"We have to build upon this performance for the future since we saw today that Algeria is able to play on an equal footing at a very high level with other teams." (Editing by Peter Rutherford)