Early Algerian flurry sets stage for comprehensive 4-2 win over South Korea
Algeria pummeled South Korea in the first half, and it earned the Africans an insurmountable lead en route to a 4-2 victory in Group H play.
Having made five changes from the 2-1 loss to Belgium, Algeria heaved the ball forward on every chance, and it bore fruit throughout the match as they earned their first World Cup win since 1982.
Algeria had chances from the opening whistle to the final one, with the pair of Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani proving the most dangerous early and often.
After poking just about every pressure point in the South Korean defense in the first 20 minutes, Algeria found their breakthrough straight up the middle just before the half-hour mark.
A long ball up the gut found a charging Slimani, and he powered his way through a pair of defenders unable to keep up, and touched the ball past the keeper for the opener. But that was just the start.
Their attacking flair earned another goal just two minutes later. A corner flew into the South Korean box, and goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong misjudged the flight of the ball. He came out too far for the punch, and Algerian defender Rafik Halliche beat him to the ball and scored with a powerful header.
The pressure flooded South Korea, with the leaders going into halftime having already completed a whopping 14 of 22 attempted tackles, eight of which came in the middle third of the pitch. In comparison, South Korea completed just six total.
It would earn the Algerians a third before the break, as Slimani cut through the South Korean defense, and the Algerians continued their blitzkrieg. In space in the box, he brilliantly touched the ball with the outside of his foot across two defenders to a wide-open Abdelmoumene Djabou for an easy low finish.
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Algeria failed to come out of the half with the same cutting edge, and the South Koreans pulled one back just five minutes after the break. Bayer Leverkusen’s Hong-Min Son, who had just eight touches in the first half, beat
The South Koreans continued to be the more incisive team, but they had only a few chances on goal after the Algerians seeked to shut them down. On the hour mark, Sung-Yeung Ki ripped a swerving shot on goal that forced an acrobatic save by Rais M’Bolhi.
But it wouldn’t be enough, as the Algerians produced a fourth just minutes later, a stunning piece of team play. Exploiting the left flank as they had all game, Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi teamed up for a perfect one-two in the box to produce an easy finish for Brahimi to put the game away.
The goal set Algeria as the first African team ever to score four goals in a World Cup match.
South Korea would pull off a second thanks to some chaos at the back for Algeria in the 72nd minute. Son held the ball in a dangerous position in the box, but an excellent tackle by Madjid Bouguerra dispossessed the South Korean star. Unfortunately the ball fell right to Keun-Ho Lee who crossed to an open Ja-Cheol Koo who tapped in from close range.
That was all they could muster, however, and the South Koreans are in a dire position with just the match against Belgium remaining and sitting on one point. Meanwhile, Algeria now has four, putting them second in Group H with a chance to earn a place in the knockout round with a win or draw against Russia in their final match.
South Korea: SR Jung, SY Yun, YG Kim, HM Son, CY Park (SW Kim, 57'), Y Lee, JC Koo, KY Han, SY Ki, CY Lee (KH Lee 64'), JH Hong.
Goals - Son 50', Koo 72'
Algeria: Mbolhi, Bouguerra, Halliche, Mesbah, Feghouli, Brahimi (Lacen 77'), Medjani, Slimani, Bentaleb, Djabou (Ghilas 73'), Mandi.
Goals – Slimani 26′, Halliche 28′, Djabou 38′, Brahimi 62'