‘One, two, three, Viva Algerie’ — South Korea v Algeria takeaways

Algeria took a giant stride towards making World Cup history at the Estadio Beiro-Rio on Sunday night, when they dispatched South Korea 4-2 in a pulsating Group H clash in Porto Alegre. Here's what we can take from the performance.
Algeria's Rafik Halliche celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during their 4-2 win against South Korea. Lee Jin-man / AP Photo
Algeria's Rafik Halliche celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during their 4-2 win against South Korea. Lee Jin-man / AP Photo
PORTO ALEGRE // Algeria took a giant stride towards making World Cup history at the Estadio Beiro-Rio on Sunday night, when they dispatched South Korea 4-2 in a pulsating Group H clash in Porto Alegre.

The north Africans etched their name into the record books anyway, becoming the first side from the continent to hit four goals in a match at the finals.

Algeria's brilliant attacking display could help seal for the first time qualification for the knockout stages, as they now sit second in the pool. Here's three pointers from their tussle with South Korea.

Algeria have their best attacking line-up in years

“One, two, three, Viva Algerie” went the chant around the Estadio Beiro-Rio, as Algeria recorded their first World Cup victory in eight matches. Or, to really put it into perspective, 32 years. The song, which continued long into the Porto Alegre night, could do with being expanded — for they hit four against the hapless Koreans.

Three arrived in 12 frantic first-half minutes, as Algeria totally overran their opponents. The front line of Islam Slimani, Abdelmoumene Djabou and Sofiane Feghouli were superb in the opening 45 minutes, with Slimani the focal point in attack and always eager to burst beyond the Korean defence. Djabou and Feghouli are clever colleagues, although it is the latter that often supplies the final spark. Feghouli, who plays his club football for Valencia, is the team's standout, yet here the three worked together beautifully.

Traditionally, Algeria have struggled for goals at major finals — in 2010, they returned home without finding the net — but this is much more talented team. In fact, you would arguably have to go back to that golden generation of the mid-1980s to find another Algerian side with a similarly potent attack.

Of course, it is way too early to proclaim Slimani, Djabou and Feghouli as proficient as the trio of Rabah Madjer, Djamel Menad and Lakhdar Belloumi, but boy, did the new kids on the block show they are brimming with potential.

Korea should implement ‘Plan B' more often

It smacked a tad of desperation, but then, that was what was required. The introduction of Kim Shin-wook on 57 minutes suggested South Korea were abandoning their typically intricate passing style and going direct instead. And, to a certain extent, it worked.

Until that point, Korea had been significantly outplayed, but Song Heung-min's close-range finish provided them a way back into the match. So on came Kim who, standing at 196 centimetres, is more Peter Crouch than Michael Owen. He certainly stands out.

Kim did just that in an encouraging cameo appearance here, providing the Algerian back line with an altogether different challenge. Korea sought to get the ball forward quicker, usually aiming long balls at Kim's head. The leggy striker responded by creating several chances for his teammates, knocking the ball down to grateful colleagues making late surges into the penalty area.

Having enjoyed that most of the match had been fought in front of them, Madjid Bougherra and Rafik Halliche, the African central defensive pair, endured a rather more uncomfortable final half-hour.

Granted, Korea's routine participation at the tournament — this is their eight consecutive World Cup — means they should not simply dispense with their normal, aesthetically pleasing style, but they must not shy from deploying another strategy. Kim, rangy and robust, offers that option.

Vahid Halilhodzic has worked wonders with his adopted country

A look at the starting line-up against Korea showed five changes from the spirited defeat to Belgium on Tuesday, and for a moment it was difficult to fathom why Halilhodzic had taken such drastic action. After all, Algeria had only just been beaten by the Group H favourites.

However, they had managed a meagre three attempts on target, and one of those was the penalty from which Feghouli gave his side the lead. For all their effort and merit, Algeria had been blunt.

So, against Korea, Halilhodzic decided to adopt a more expansive approach — admittedly, the Asians are not of the same calibre as their Belgian counterparts — and it paid off almost immediately. Within the first 10 minutes, Algeria had created four decent opportunities, while Kim Young-gwon was lucky not to concede a penalty for a foul in the area on Feghouli.

By half time, three precious points were almost secure. Halilhodzic, the granite-faced Bosnian, had masterminded a famous victory, much like he has been the architect of Algeria's steady rise. Halilhodzic has remoulded the squad since his appointment in 2011, incorporating into the side a number of French-born players. He is clearly reaping the rewards: Algeria stand on the verge of an unprecedented last-16 spot.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: June 23, 2014 04:00 AM

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