World Cup: Wilmots masterminds Belgium comeback to edge out Algeria
ALGERIA 1 BELGIUM 2
A LATE second-half strike from Napoli winger Dries Mertens saw Belgium come from behind to land only their second World Cup win in 20 years.
Manager Marc Wilmots scored the winning goal to defeat Russia in 2002 – Belgium’s sole triumph at a finals since 1994 – and inspired victory again with two of his substitutes, Marouane Fellaini and Mertens, scoring in the final 20 minutes to cancel out Sofiane Feghouli’s penalty.
Wilmots said: At half-time people were a bit down, but I said ‘don’t worry, we will score and we will totally change the match’.”
Algeria had made a bright start to the contest and edged ahead on 24 minutes after Jan Vertonghen hauled down Feghouli, who dusted himself down to score.
Belgium struggled to create clear cut chances and only when Wilmots ditched Plan A and adopted a more direct approach did the cracks begin to show in Algeria’s rearguard.
Five minutes after his introduction from the bench Manchester United’s Fellaini glanced in former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne’s cross to equalise.
And Belgium turned the match on its head with 10 minutes remaining when current Blues star Eden Hazard broke forwards on the left flank and delivered a low cross-field pass into the path of Mertens to rifle in a rising shot at the near post.