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Late Goals Save Belgium’s Blushes

Belgium fought back from a goal down to keep their winning record in tact when they defeated Group H opponents Algeria 2-1 at the Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday evening.

Sofiane Feghouli had put his country ahead from a first-half penalty, but two late goals from Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens saved their blushes.

The Fennec Foxes arrived into the game looking to restore African pride after the having seen both Ghana and Nigeria lose the evening before.

There was an evident display of nerves in the encounter as both teams implemented a cautious approach within the opening quarter of an hour.

It seemed a struggle for either team to produce an effort on goal, as Belgium saw Moussa Dembele try to create a threat with a through-ball to Romelu Lukaku in the box but he couldn’t connect.

Algeria were the first to attack on 18 minutes when their goalkeeper Adi M’Bolhi pushed the ball up the field to open up a counter attack. Riyard Mahez picked up the ball to burst into the box but he could only fire his effort off target.

That move allowed for Belgium to make an attack of their own two minutes later, as Axel Witsel was the first player to hit the target with a powerful drive that was beaten away by M’Bolhi.

Despite all the possession going to the Europeans, Algeria were the ones to take the lead in the 23rd minute when they were awarded a penalty after Jan Vertonghen brought down Sofiane Feghouli. The Valencia player stood up and calmly converted straight down the middle from the spot.

The Red Devils concluded the half with efforts on goal and, in particular, Nacer Chadli who fired the effort straight into the arms of the shot-stopper.

Dries Mertens was introduced in place of Chadli at the start of the second-half as Marc Wilmots tried to find a way back in the game.

There was a visible increase in hunger by the Belgians and they came out firing at goal. A great chance fell to Witsel when the Algerian goalkeeper steered onto his head, but it flew narrow of goal.

Divock Origi was denied twice in quick succession by the Algerian stopper, before seeing his side draw level thanks to Marouane Fellaini’s strike in the 70th minute.

Kevin de Bruyen supplied a great ball into the box from the left flank and Fellaini, who nodded it in from six yards out, connected it with precision and potency.

The game was then turned on its head in the 80th minute when Belgium carried the ball from one side of the field to the other to see Mertens fire in a thunderbolt into the top of the net.


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