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World Cup

No 7: Algeria joy as Slimani’s header creates history at Brazil 2014

Thirty-two years after being cruelly denied a World Cup knock-out spot, Algeria’s dreams finally come true.

No 7: Algeria joy as Slimani's header creates history at Brazil 2014

Algerian football fans had waited 32 years for this moment.

Their team’s brilliant 4-2 win over South Korea in their second fixture of Brazil 2014 had left them within sight of a first ever qualification to the World Cup knock-out stages.

The last time the North African nation had come near progress from the group stages had been in 1982, when West German and Austria conspired to crush their dream thanks to the “Disgrace of Gijon”.

This time, Algeria’s fate was in their own hands. Beat Russia, or even draw as long as South Korea don’t pull off an improbable win over Belgium, and Vahid Halilhodzic’s team would secure a historic qualification.

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Things couldn’t have got off to a worse start against Russia, for whom a win would also confirm progress. Only six minutes into the match Aleksandr Kokorin rose at the near post to power in a header from Oleg Shatov’s outswinging corner.

Algeria’s considerable support in the stands was stunned, but there was plenty of time to turn this match against a team that had yet to win in Brazil.

 

But it was Russia who continued to create the better chances and could have doubled their lead at the start of the second half through Alexander Samedov, whose shot was blocked by Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi after an excellent team move involving Victor Fayzulin and Kokorin.

When Algeria’s breakthrough came, it was from an expected source.

On 60 minutes, Abdelmoumeme Djabou’s curling freekick saw Islam Slimani soar the highest to head past Igor Akinfeev.

The rest of the half was an exercise in some splendid, often desperate, Algerian defending.

The final whistle was greeted with unbridled celebrations by the Algerian players, the 5,000 supporters inside the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, and no doubt by the millions watching back home.

Algeria, at long last, had managed to progress beyond the World Cup groups stages. Germany, their old 1982 nemesis, awaited in the round of 16.

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