PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL – Islam Slimani scored one goal and made two more as Algeria swept to a 4-2 victory over South Korea on Sunday to become the first African team to score four goals in a World Cup match.
The result gives Algeria a first World Cup win since 1982 and moves it into second place in Group H with one match left to play, against Russia.
Slimani opened the scoring with a fine solo goal after 26 minutes as his team raced into a 3-0 lead at halftime. However, it then had to withstand a South Korean fight back after the break to secure the points.
“The first period was almost perfect,” Algerian coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. “I’d like to dedicate this victory to the fans and the Algerian people who have been waiting for this for many, many years.”
Defeat for South Korea means it must now beat already-qualified Belgium and hope that other results go its way to progress to the knockout stages.
Belgium leads with six points, Algeria now has three, while Russia and the South Koreans have one apiece.
Halilhodzic had promised changes after an opening 2-1 defeat to Belgium and introduced five new players on Sunday, essentially rebuilding its attack.
Algeria dominated the opening 15 minutes, with midfield playmaker Sofiane Feghouli and Slimani both coming close. South Korea struggled to keep possession in the middle of the pitch and was toothless going forward.
Slimani, one of three Algeria scorers who didn’t start against Belgium, finally broke the deadlock, running onto a through ball between two defenders, controlling it once and then steering it past Jung Sung-ryong.
Algeria, which failed to score at the 2010 World Cup, doubled its lead two minutes later when defender Rafik Halliche powerfully headed in a corner after Jung came off his line but failed to make contact with the ball.
Algeria’s third also came from a long ball, which Slimani neatly pulled back to Abdelmoumene Djabou, who was in space and side-footed home from close to the penalty spot.
“The coach gave me clear instructions and they worked,” said Slimani, who was voted Algerian player of the year in 2013. “We didn’t get a good start to the tournament but I think we played a good match today. I hope we can qualify, God willing.”
South Korea didn’t manage a single shot on goal in the first half, but improved markedly after the break. It pulled a goal back in the 48th minute when Son Heung-min shot through the legs of Rais Mbolhi after the ball landed nicely off the midfielder’s back in the six-yard box.
Hopes of a remarkable comeback were soon extinguished, though, when swift passing by Slimani put Yacini Brahimi through on a counter attack to make it 4-1.
South Korea captain Koo Ja-cheol bundled the ball home on 72 minutes from close range, but aside from a few scares, Algeria’s defense held on to secure a historic victory.
“Our defense wasn’t as good as it should have been,” South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo said. “We will now do our best to the very end of the competition. That’s the only option we have left.”