Algeria become the first African side to score four goals in the World Cup, as they demolished South Korea 4-2 on Sunday. It's the nation's first World Cup win since 1982, and they now only need a single point from their final group match against Russia.
GOAL! Islam Slimani (ALG), 26 min. A nice long ball from Carl Medjani leaves Slimani some work to do, but he’s up to the task. With two defenders on him, Slimani breaks through into the penalty area and smartly flips the ball over a hard-charging Sung-Ryong Jung.
GOAL! Rafik Halliche (ALG), 28 min. Abdelmoumene Djabou places a nice corner right in the box away from defenders. It forces Jung to leave his net and attempt to punch away, but Halliche rises above and in front of the Korean ‘keeper to head it home.
GOAL! Abdelmoumene Djabou (ALG), 37 min. Slimani comes into the box with the ball, and fakes out two defenders as he cuts out and passes to Djabou instead of going on target. Djabou calmly places the ball in the bottom right corner, and we have all the makings of a rout on our hands.
GOAL! Heung-Min Son (KRP), 50 min. A long pass from Sung-Yong Ki bounces off of Son’s back. He makes a turn in the box, shifts his weight, fakes out the defender, and fires through the legs of the Algerian ‘keeper Rais M’Bolhi.
GOAL! Yacine Brahimi (ALG), 62 min. A give-and-go with Slimani, then a similar play with Sofiane Feghouli leaves Brahimi right in front of the opposing ‘keeper. He slides it through Jung’s legs to restore the three-goal lead.
GOAL! Koo Ja-Cheol (KRP), 72 min. Son’s shot in the area is blocked, but Keun-Ho Lee picks up the rebound, and quickly squares a pass to the Korean captain, who knees the ball into the net.
Man of the Match - Islam Slimani
The Sporting CP striker was everything to Algeria on Sunday. His work with Djabou on the left side was particularly good. The two worked well in tandem with quick passes on the ground to either advance up the pitch themselves or draw the attention of Korean defenders to free up Brahimi or Feghouli.
Despite Algeria's nickname — the Fennec Foxes — the squad did not lull South Korea into disarray through their overwhelming cuteness. In fact, nothing that they did on the pitch today was reminiscent of fennec foxes.
What did Algeria do to win?
Algeria’s dominating first half, which put them in a position to coast through the second, was achieved through the strict organization of what looked more like a 4-3-2-1 (and sometimes a false nine setup) than the advertised 5-2-2-1 or 5-2-3. Every player on the pitch seemed position bound except for Slimani, who was given the space to roam up front.
The formation effectively put up to three players on Son at all times. With such little room for their best player, Korea looked lost in the first half. Later, they were reduced to hoofing the ball to substitute Kim Shin-Wook in the second half, and hoping for the best.
All Algeria needs is a draw against Russia to advance, and given the way that Russia have performed so far, such a result seems hardly out of reach. For South Korea, they'll need to overcome the already advancing Belgians, and hope for a draw in the other match or a Russia win that doesn't give them a better goal differential.
The 1,000 Words
Korean 'keeper Sung-Ryong Jung looked brutal on two of the four goals he allowed on Sunday, but the back line just couldn't keep up with Slimani's versatile attacks. Go one-on-one, and he'll burn you. Double-team him, and he'd distribute to a player in the newly sacrificed space.
Considering the amount of Algerians attached to Heung-Min Son throughout the match, his goal in the second half was extraordinary. That he was again able to shake his shadows on other occasions to create chances is testament to his skill. If Korea had any one else in attack to draw some of the attention away from him, this match would've been much different.
I don't know how you don't prepare for your best player to receive extra attention, but South Korea looked clueless without Son as a major part of thir attack.
Feature photo courtesy of Getty/PEDRO UGARTE