Fellanini fire

Fellanini fire
Belgium's midfielder Marouane Fellaini celebrates after scoring during a Group H football match between Belgium and Algeria at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 17, 2014.

GROUP H

BELGIUM 2

(Marouane Fellaini 70, Dries Mertens 80)

ALGERIA 1

(Sofiane Feghouli 25-pen)

As expected, Belgium won their first game of the tournament, beating Algeria 2-1 in Belo Horizonte.

But there was nothing comfortable about this victory.

For a team who were supposed to be the "dark horses" of this tournament, Belgium struggled to break out of a gentle canter for much of the game.

It took a series of increasingly desperate substitutions from manager Marc Wilmots to turn the match around, but despite his joy, he will know that this could have ended very badly.

Algeria manager Vahid Halilhodzic will be desperately disappointed.

The Bosnian, who took Ivory Coast to the 2010 World Cup but was sacked just months before the first game, deployed his players shrewdly.

Algeria kept men back and shut down all the space on the pitch, removing any possibility of allowing the Belgians to play through them.

Halilhodzic knew that sooner or later Belgium would make a mistake and when they did, his striker Sofiane Feghouli took full advantage.

He will lie awake tonight wondering how they weren't able to hang on to their lead.

Belgium started slowly and gradually eased off as the first half unfolded.

With no width coming from their fullbacks, their midfielders simply ran straight into a North African wall.

NO WAY THROUGH

Or rather, they walked straight into a North African wall, given that few players ever broke out of a gentle trot.

Romelu Lukaku dropped deeper and deeper in search of possession, but when he secured it, there were so many Algerians between him and the goal, there was little he could do.

Algeria were content to sit back and absorb what could only be loosely described as pressure, hoping to take their chances on the counter-attack.

And that's precisely what they did.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.