Belgium 2-1 Algeria: Fellaini Powers the Red Devils Over Foxes

Second-half substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens helped Belgium sealed a 2-1 comeback win over Algeria in their opening Group H encounter of the ongoing World Cup.

Sofianne Feghhouli handed the North Africans a stunning lead in the 24th minute from the penalty spot, after Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen fouled him in the goal area.

Manchester United midfielder Fellaini leveled for the ‘Red Devils’ through a looping header shortly after coming on in the second-half.

Soffiane Feghouli Scores from the Spot to Hand Algeria the Lead Over Belgium.
Soffiane Feghouli Scores from the Spot to Hand Algeria the Lead Over Belgium.

Mertens sealed a memorable comeback for Marc Wilmot side ten minutes to full-time, finishing off a swift counter-attack move.

Belgium, on their World Cup return in 12 years after missing Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, played woefully in the opening hour of the tie at the Estadio Mieneirao in Belo Horizonte, but two effective second-half changes switched the tempo in favour of the 1986 semi-finalists.

Kevin De Bruyne was listed in Wilmot’s starting line-up despite fears over an ankle problem, while Algeria’s top scorer in qualifying Islam Slimani started from the bench.

Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez was too quick for Veteran Bayern Munich defender Daniel van Buyten on 19 minutes, but the the ‘Desert Foxes’ man shot into the side netting after breaking free of the 36-year-old.

Axel Witxel’s shot from the edge of the area in the 22nd minute was punched clear by goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibault Courtois looked on the verge of a first loss in 18 matches, when Feghouli converted from 12 yards, after being fouled by Vertonghen.

Mbohli was again called into action in the 34th minute, dragging across his goal to push wide Witxel’s long-range shot hurtling towards the bottom corner.

Belgium came closest to getting an equaliser a minute to the break, but Tottenham’s Naccer Chadli’s tame shot from an Eden Hazard assist was rightly saved by the goalkeeper.

Mertens introduction at the break brought urgency into the Europeans’ game, running at the opponents and delivering some good crosses into the Algerian area.

Algeria almost doubled their lead against the run of play on 56th minute, when Carl Medjani headed inches past the far post.

Lille forward Divock Origi, shortly after coming on for Romelu Lukaku, burst into the Algerian goal area in full speed, only to release a shot which came off Mbohli’s legs.

fellaini Celebrates Belgium's Equaliser Over Algeria at the Estadio Mineiro.
fellaini Celebrates Belgium’s Equaliser Over Algeria at the Estadio Mineiro.

The wait was finally over after 70 minutes. The most unlikely player in red, Fellaini, rose above Algeria defence to head home De Bruyne pin-point cross from the left- Game On Algeria.

Ten minutes later, fellow sub, Mertens scampered clear of the Algerian defence to meet a Hazard through pass, before unleashing a thunderous shot into the back of the net.

Fellaini almost doubled Belgium’s lead, but his powerful header was well pushed over the bar by goalkeeper Mbolhi.

Vahid halihodzic side’s hopes of causing an upset failed to materialise as Belgium held on to an impressive win.

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