Goals two minutes apart in the first half proved the difference, but South Korea refused fold in Algeria’s stunning 4-2 victory in Group H action Sunday at the Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre.
The Desert Foxes, who hadn’t scored a goal since the 1986 World Cup or won a match since 1982, are now second in the group behind already-advancing Belgium with four points and could enter the Round of 16 for the first time in history.
In order to stave off elimination, South Korea must topple Belgium by several goals, and need Russia to defeat Algeria in the final group match.
Forward Islam Slimani scored Algeria’s first goal in 28 years in the 26th minute, and assisted Abdelmoumene Djabou’s capper in the 38th, which could be the goal that propels Algeria into the knockout stage.
Defender Rafick Halliche squeezed in his goal in the 28th minute to provide Algeria some cushion, and put South Korea’s hopes of a second straight Round of 16 in jeopardy.
Slimani started things off by chasing down midfielder Carl Medjani’s deep lob from midfield, and split and fought off defenders Young-Gwon Kim and Jeong-Ho Hong, for the soft left-footed touch in front of the net.
Two minutes later, poor South Korean marking left Halliche wide open in front of the net and goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong misjudged the flight of Medjani’s corner kick, allowing Halliche to power the header through for his second career goal.
With Slimani terrorizing them all over the field, South Korea threw four defenders at his run in the 38th, which sprung Djabou free for a simple deflection inside the penalty area and the defining 3-0 lead.
All told Algeria outscored their last two World Cup teams in 12 minutes.
Taegeuk Warriors began the match with three midfielders, Heung-Min Son, Ja-Cheol Koo and Sung-Yeung Ki, hoping to avoid their second yellow cards and the suspension, and thus the defensive strategy suffered.
Still South Korea would press on and hoped to stage an unprecedented comeback in the second half. In the 50th minute Son got the Warriors on the board by staying onside and deflecting Ki's through ball off his back, then juked to allude the defenders and turned to fire a ground shot between the legs of Algeria keeper Rais M’Bolhi.
Midfielder Yacine Brahimi’s goal in the 62nd minute appeared to erase any chance of a comeback. He sliced through South Korea’s area and played an excellent give-and-go with Sofiane Feghoui to score the final goal and make Algeria the first African nation to score four goals in a single World Cup match.
However, the Warriors wouldn’t concede. Keun-Ho Kee found himself in the right place at the right time, after Son went down in front of the net from a sliding tackle but Koo salvaged the play with the assist for Lee’s goal in the 72nd minute.