Jun 26, 2014, 4:51 PM EDT
An early goal from Russia’s Aleksandr Kokorin has shaken things up in Group H, where the second place Algerians are in danger of losing their knockout round spot. The group leaders are also having trouble, though after 45 minutes with South Korea, and the 10-man Belgians are still even.
Here’s an update on the final group games at the 2014 World Cup:
South Korea 0-0 Belgium [ FOLLOW LIVE ]
25′ – Korea’s early possession edge is starting the wane, giving the Belgians opportunities to generate chances like this one: A ball targeting Marouane Fellaini; knocked out; falling for a lurking teammate. This time that teammate is Dries Mertens, but with an open chance from 11 yards out, the Napoli man lifts it into the stands. Mertens is left jaw-slacken as the score remains 0-0.
29′ – South Korea briefly has Belgium 5-on-4 in transition, but as the Devils back four pulls up near the penalty area, Ki Sung-Yeung lets go of a 24-yard shot the skips toward Thibaut Courtois‘s right post. After batting it out for a corner, Courtois has to come up big again, pushing a ball out at his right upright after the ensuring corner.
45′ – Steven Defour is gone. Coming down with his studs on Kim Shin-Wook’s right shin, the Belgian midfielder his given a straight red card, setting up South Korea to play the second half with a man advantage.
Questions for the second half:
- Will the result matter to Belgium? Marc Wilmots made big chances to his starting XI for this one, and with Russia up on Algeria in Curitiba, the Red Devils may be destined for first no matter what happens in this one. Even if South Korea scores a goal, will we see the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne?
Algeria 0-1 Russia [ FOLLOW LIVE ]
6′ – From the middle of the box, Aleksandr Kokorin has given the Russians an early lead, heading Dmitri Kombarov‘s cross inside Raïs M’Bolhi’s near post to make it 1-0. Unmarked running into his shot from midfield, the 23-year-old has eased early tensions, giving his team a goal that could send them into the final 16.
29′ – Igor Akinfeev comes up big, denying Islam Slimani an equalizer. Off a corner from the left side, Algeria flicks a ball across goal, where Slimani puts a 12-yard header toward the upper-right hand corner. Eventually diving into the side netting, Akinfeev is able to push the shot over the bar, his save keeping it 1-0, Russia.
Questions for the second half:
- Will Fabio Capello pay off? This is the type of the match that can justify the Russian head coach’s hire. His soccer isn’t attractive, but when his team needs to protect a lead, the Italian boss can get results. With a spot in the final 16 on the line, is this where Russia’s huge investment in Capello pays off?
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