Belgium 2 Algeria 1: Nabil Bentaleb thinks Algeria deserved at least a point against Belgians
Tottenham man came up against his clubmates
Wednesday 18 June 2014
Young Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb claimed that Algeria deserved at least a point if not more after suffering a 2-1 defeat against Belgium in their opening World Cup match in Belo Horizonte.
In glorious sunshine, the Estadio Mineirao felt like a Londoners get together, on the pitch at least, with Bentaleb up against three of his Tottenham team mates in Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Nacer Chadli. Chelsea's Eden Hazard also featured in the Belgian side along with the west London team's Romelu Lukaku, currently on loan at Everton and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, on loan at Atletico Madrid.
Making his World Cup debut, the 19 year old Bentaleb gave an acomplished performance that far exceeded his years, helping to keep the Belgians at bay for much of the game.
After taking a 25th minute lead through a penalty by Sofiane Feghouli, who was pulled back in the box by Vertonghen, Algeria made Belgium look almost mediocre. The highly rated Red Devils kicked off their campaign hotly tipped to progress to the latter stages of the tournament but for most of the time yesterday they struggled to get past Algeria's well marshalled midfield and defence.
Bentaleb told Algerian media: "This was a match that we did not deserve to lose. We played one of the favourites of this tournament. Belgium have some fantastic players, some of whom I know very well so I know what they can do.
"But you also saw what Algeria are capable of. The team is down at the moment because this was a match where we came very close to taking all three points."
Continuing the London connection, Algeria were captained by former Charlton defender Majid Bouguerra, who will retire from international football once the tournament is over.
He said: "It was very hard on us. For most of the game we were in control, Belgium only threatened us with long shots from outside the box. We have let three points slip out our grasp."
The match turned on three substitutions made by Belgian manager Marc Wilmots, who took off the ineffective Chadli at half time for Dries Mertens. Midway through the second half Manchester United's Marouanne Fellani came on for Tottenham's Dembele with Lukaku replaced by Divock Origi.
The changes proved to be decisive with Fellani scoring the equaliser on 70 minutes and Mertens latching onto a Hazard through ball on 80 minutes to fire the winner into the roof of the net.
Both teams now play on Sunday with Belgium facing Russia and Algeria South Korea.
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