Algeria finally laid the ghosts of 1982 to rest as they progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time at the expense of Fabio Capello’s Russia.
As England manager, Capello oversaw an instantly forgettable goalless draw with Algeria at the last World Cup and the Italian will remember this game no more fondly after Islam Slimani’s second-half equaliser in Curitiba secured the point the north Africans needed to hold on to second place in Group H.
Their reward is a round of 16 meeting in Porto Alegre on Monday with Germany – the very team that denied them on the last occasion they stood on the threshold of the second round. The preamble to this match was full of recollections of Algeria’s misfortune at the Spain finals, when they would have progressed but for a stage-managed West German 1-0 victory over neighbours Austria in Gijon which sent both teams through and led to Fifa decreeing that all future final group games should kick off at the same time.
Valid Halihodzic’s men had looked in danger of falling short again when they went behind to a brilliant Alexander Kokorin header after six minutes. It was a terrific goal, which originated with left-back Dmitry Kombarov collecting the ball inside his own half. He fed Victor Fayzulin infield, continued his run and, when the ball came back to him, swung over a first-time cross for Kokorin to flash a header past Rais Mbolhi.
Russia did not sit back on their lead and Algeria, who had blown South Korea away in the first half of their 4-2 victory on Sunday, had to ride their luck. Kokorin headed another opportunity off target and Oleg Shatov fired narrowly wide from 25 yards. Alexander Samedov then broke through on the end of a fine flowing move at the start of the second half but Mbolhi came out to make the save.
At that stage, Algeria had enjoyed some good possession but fashioned nothing more than a pair of headed opportunities for Slimani. For the first he was offside but Igor Akinfeev saved anyway. The second time he headed straight at the goalkeeper, but it proved third time lucky in the 60th minute.
Akinfeev had been culpable for South Korea’s goal in their draw with the Asian nation and when he came and missed Yacine Brahimi’s free-kick from the left, the Sporting Lisbon striker made him pay, rising high to bury a header into the net. Algeria had made history and Africa too, as for the first time the continent has two teams in the last 16.