GERMANY 2, ALGERIA 1 (AFTER EXTRA TIME)
ALGERIANS PUSH GERMANY ALL THE WAY BUT ARE PUNISHED FOR NOT TAKING THEIR CHANCES, KEEPERS PLAY A FULL PART
It was a game for goalkeepers as both Manuel Neuer and Rais M’Bolhi performed heroics to keep the scores level for the first 90 minutes of this fine contest but substitute Andre Shurrle found some magic to beat M’Bolhi early in extra time to put Germany into the lead.
The Algerians were never out of the game until the last minute of extra time when Mesut Ozil scored what turned out to be the winning goal after pouncing on a poor clearance from Schurrle’s shot making Abdelmoumene Djabou’s last gasp goal at the end of injury time little more than a consolation.
Algeria can easily claim to have played a full part in a very entertaining and exciting game at the Estadio Beira-Rio played in conditions more suitable to the European game with chances coming in packs for both sides but they eventually regretted not converting any of the chances they had in the first half of this absorbing contest.
They had no need for motivation after the notorious “Anschluss” of the 1982 World Cup in which West Germany and Austria conspired to knock the Algerians out of the group stage of that tournament and it was clear to see that they wanted to beat the Germans in Porto Alegre.
Germany, who fielded seven Bayern Munich players, were persisting in playing with four centre backs protected by Philipp Lahm but they were constantly caught on the break by the Algerians who had pace in abundance.
They almost had the lead on several occasions in the first half, with Neuer having to race off out of his box twice early on to sweep up behind his defenders. Neuer would go on to record dozens of touches outside of his area.
Islam Slimani, was the main Algerian threat and lured Neuer out of his box after just eight minutes with a race for the loose ball. He would have had an open goal to aim at if Neuer hadn’t executed a brilliantly timed last ditch tackle to deprive him of the ball after realising he had mistimed his run.
Slimani was running back towards goal again two minutes later but was robbed by Per Mertesacker as he shaped to go round him.
Sofiane Feghouli was Algeria’s other big threat up front and he snatched at a difficult chance from an acute angle and sent it high and wide when El Arbi Hillel Soudani was available in front of the six yard box.
Germany got a proper warning in the 17th minute when Soudani’s cross found Slimani racing ahead of Jerome Boateng to score with a header off the post but it was rightfully ruled out for offside.
Algeria spurned further chances to go into the lead when Faouzi Ghoulam was given space by Mesut Ozil to shoot wide a minute later and Neuer had to race out of the box again to deny Feghouli a free shot on goal before the half hour mark.
The Germans finally began to get into their stride towards the end of the half and there was an ominous prelude of things to come when M’Bolhi had to get down to make a save after a loss of concentration by Algeria allowed Gotze a fine shooting chance just before the break.
There was a second wind for the Germans for ten minutes after the break after Chelsea’s Andre Shurrle replaced Mario Gotze.
Schurrle’s early shot deflected off a defender but fell too wide for Muller to pick up while Shkodran Mustafi’s header was directly into the arms of M’Bolhi.
Neuer even got into the action after he scrambled to pick up a loose ball in his area and launched a massive clearance to Schurrle who almost broke free of the covering defenders but Goulam got in front of him to clear the ball.
Even Philipp Lahm got in on the action after Bastian Schweinsteiger laid the ball off to him and his firmly struck shot was saved by M’Bolhi.
The pace dropped towards the end of the enthralling contest but the drama wasn’t over by any stretch.
Neuer was called out of his area for a third time after Slimani chased another defence bypassing long ball to head it away in the 72nd minute.
There were solid chances for Slimani, Feghouli and Soudani as Algeria kept the Germans on their toes towards the end of normal time.
A superb 80th minute stop by M’Bolhi as Muller’s bullet header off Sami Khedira’s cross kept Algeria in it, Shurrle couldn’t convert the rebound and Muller dragged his shot two minutes later just wide.
And Muller tripped himself up during a 25 yard free kick routine to raise gales of laughter, or perhaps cause a deliberate distraction, from the crowd as the Germans attempted to make the breakthrough 2 minutes form the end.
There will still time for Neuer to race out of his area to deny Feghouli.
Schweinsteiger’s header was gratefully collected by M’Bolhi in the 90th minute.
Algerian hopes were dashed early in extra time when Thomas Muller pounced on a defensive slip and crossed for Shurrle to convert with a clever flicked shot past M’Bolhi.
Ozil and Muller began to find space as the Algerians tired but had to commit players into the attack.
Mehdi Mostefa hit Algeria’s best extra time chance wide in the 102nd minute but there was heartbreak coming for the Algerians after Ozil made it 2-0 as extra time ended meaning Abdelmoumene Djabou’s injury time goal was nothing but a consolation.